Today’s Card of the Day is a great one from the 1963 Topps set featuring four Pittsburgh Pirates. Dubbed the “Bucs Blasters”, Topps put Roberto Clemente, Dick Stuart, Bob Skinner and Smoky Burgess all on the same card. During that era, Topps featured a lot of teammates on a special card similar to this one, and sometimes just players from the same league made the same card. In the link below, you can find an example in the “1959 Buc Hill Aces” article, which featured four of their top pitchers.
Here’s today’s featured card:
As the title would suggest, these four players would have provided power for the Pirates during the 1962 season and they would be players to watch in 1963. What Topps didn’t anticipate was that Stuart would be traded before the 1963 season started. In fact, he was traded on November 20, 1962, so that tells you how early these cards went into production before the 1963 season.
As far as their performance for the 1962 season, playing in spacious Forbes Field kept the home run totals down for most Pirates not named Willie Stargell or Ralph Kiner. The Pirates ranked ninth out of ten team in home runs in 1962, finishing with 108 on the season. These players hit 59 of those homers, with Skinner leading the way with 20, followed by Stuart at 16, Burgess at 13 and Clemente at ten. Bill Mazeroski actually ranked third on the team with 14 homers that season.
In 1963 without Stuart around, the remaining three players on the card hit just 23 total home runs. That was partially due to Skinner being traded early in the year, though he only hit three homers after the trade. A Bucs Blasters updated card would have featured Clemente and three new players, including Donn Clendenon, Bob Bailey and either Jim Pagliaroni or Willie Stargell, who each hit 11 homers in 1963.
Here’s the back of the card:
You’ll notice that the back has an update on Stuart no longer being around, which was likely a change added after the front of the cards were already decided and it was too late to add a different card into the mix. In reality, probably the first thing you actually noticed is that Topps called Clemente “Bob”, which happened for most of his cards back then. As an interesting side note to that story, we featured a 1971 Topps Clemente artwork piece here recently from Tim Carroll. He briefly mentions in that article that whenever he recreates Clemente cards that say “Bob”, he corrects them to say Roberto. A nice touch on his part.
The third thing you probably noticed is that stat about Skinner batting .472 during his first season in the minors with the Pirates. The deserves some explaining on behalf of Topps. Skinner hit .472 for the Mayfield Clothiers in 1951 and they were a Pirates affiliate, so that stat has some truth behind it. However, he only played 29 games with that team and another 98 games with the Waco Pirates, where he had a .283 average. Skinner batted .326 during the 1951 season.
This card can be had for under $10 delivered if you’re not picky about condition. However, really nice graded ones (PSA 7/Near Mint) can be had for around $50, so you get more eye appeal and a nice case to keep it protected for about twice the cost of a raw one a few grades lower. When you go up to a PSA 8, the price jumps over $100, and if you can find one of the 11 PSA 9 versions of this card, the price will be in the low four figures. There are no PSA 10s yet.
Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them once we launch Pittsburgh Baseball History, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:
1887 N172 Sam Barkley (guest submission)
1998 Topps Jose Guillen (guest submission)
1931 W517 Paul Waner (guest submission)