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Some valuable baseball cards from past days

Baseball season is around the corner, and we all have our share of childhood memories about the game.

What about baseball cards? How many did you collect? Did you ever put them in the spokes of your bike? I didn’t. And I could never figure out why someone would do it.

My prize card was a 1967 Tom Seaver that was in decent shape. Unfortunately, I sold it to a dealer friend of mine in 1989, getting a pretty good price back then. A Seaver card today that is a PSA 7 could bring you between $250-300.

In this week’s version of my Yesterday column - reminiscing about sports in the 1960, 70s, 80s, 90s and sometimes beyond - I’ll look at some of the famous cards from the 1970s as well as some related items about the sport. Remember that long piece of gum with the white powder on it that came in each pack?

And did you “survive” in 1979, and who was Mario in 1985? Did you ever mingle among the nightlife at the George Washington Motor Lodge?

Did You Have That Schmidt Card? ... One of the hardest cards to find today in mint condition is Mike Schmidt’s rookie card, which really isn’t his own card. Schmidt was on a Topps card titled “1973 Rookie Third Baseman: along with the Dodgers’ Ron Cey and San Diego’s John Hilton, whose career never took off. I still may have the card, but it isn’t in pristine shape.

Topps released a Schmidt card in 1974, which many consider to be his rookie card, but the rookie trio of third baseman card is the one to find.

One of the most renowned and hardest Phillies sets to find is the 1970 Topps set of 29 cards. The hardest to find in mind condition is pitcher Jeff James, ironically his two-year Phillies career was over in 1969. James was a tall right-handed starter who appeared in 33 games.

Another rare Phillies card from the 1970 collection is the Curt Flood card. Flood was traded from St. Louis in October 1969, but he refused to report. If you have one and if it is in good condition, you have a gem. Like many others, I did have the Flood card at one point.

A card that I have and maybe you do too is the 1970 Phillies Rookie Stars that featured Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle in a one-on-top-of-the-other format. I remember having that card, and it is a valuable one.

Or did you have the 1970 Phillies Rookie Card of Joe Lis and Scott Reid? Both Lis and Reid wore red caps without the white “P” logo.

And What About The Rest? ... There were plenty of valuable cards around from the 1960s and 70s.

In the late 1960s, a Rod Carew or Nolan Ryan rookie card from 1967 and 68, respectively, could net you some dollars if they are in good shape. Before that, a Sandy Koufax or Mickey Mantle card are among the treasure troves.

These days, the 1971 Steve Garvey rookie card is a highly-touted card, as are the 1973 Roberto Clemente, Wilie Mays, and Hank Aaron cards. Clemente was killed in a plane crash on Dec, 31, 1972, and the Mays card was his last one with the Mets. Aaron is listed as playing first base, and he would set the new home run mark the following season.

If you’re a Yankees fan, you may have the 1970 Thurman Munson rookie card that was similar to the Schmidt ‘73 card. It has Munson’s picture on top and first baseman Dave McDonald on the bottom.

Two other cards from ‘70 are Johnny Bench and Reggie Jackson. Both Bench and Jackson had breakout seasons and were considered to be in their prime. The Jackson card had him in the old A’s uniform before their move to a “modern” one. A Clemente and Aaron ‘70 card in good condition also were cherished ones.

Another rookie card that I owned was the Vida Blue and Gene Tenace rookie card that was in the same layout as the Munson card.

Does anyone recall Blue’s MVP year in 1971 when he had a 24-8 record with 24 complete games, a 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts? When you think about it and compare those to today’s game, it is mind blowing. Blue won the American League Cy Young and MVP Award.

Blue made the cover of Time Magazine and was a guest on the legendary Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (If you’re a pop culture fan of the 70s, you know the show. It was a classic and breakthrough TV at the time).

Also, do you remember the Players Checklist and the World Series highlights cards?

Some Baseball Candy ... If you loved taffy, you must have had some BB Bats Taffy from the 60s and 70s. It had a cover with a batter on its wrapper.

Being a lover of banana-flavored foods, I had my share of these. The strawberry flavor was pretty tasty, too. Of course, my teeth paid the price, and I can’t deal with any taffy today.

But it was a treat back in the day.

Another Classic Game ... If you had a Tudor Electric football game, you may have come across the 1970 Tudor Electric Baseball Game. In that year, it sold for $5.49, which was a high price back then.

Its cover featured the Oakland A’s Bert Campaneris. You can pitch fast balls, change-ups and curves, with exclusive pitch direction control, hidden behind the left field fence. You can hit the magnetic ball for a home run, triple, double, single, and even bunt using the remote control batting handle. Runners could be thrown out at any base with the flexible fielder, which is secured to the top corner of the center field fences. The fences fit into a slot at the back of the game featuring a center field scoreboard.

On this date (March 10) ... In 1978, The Incredible Hulk premiered on CBS. Bill Bixby - who we became familiar with in the show “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” - played the lead role of Dr. David Banner, who would turn into the green creature when he was angry. I was a senior in high school at the time.

What many either didn’t know or forgot was that Ted Cassidy - known to us as Lurch from The Addams Family - narrated the opening scene. One memory I will always have is the closing piano theme of “The Lonely Man.”

The series ended in 1982, and was a good one.

Also in 1979, Gloria Gaynor had the No. 1 song in the land with “I Will Survive.” At the time, disco music was still churning, and you may have been wearing high-heel shoes and an open shirt.

If you ventured in the Lehigh Valley during that time, you may remember spending some moments at the George Washington Motor Lodge, The Alibi, Scarlett O’ Hara’s, Phase 5, or Godfrey Daniels. I did.

In 1985, Nintendo released “Mario,” and he became an instant smash. How many initial hours did you spend playing the game?

And finally in 1955, the Phillies played their inaugural spring training game at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater. The Phillies defeated the Tigers, 4-2, behind Robin Roberts and Willie “Puddin Head“ Jones.

Memory Lane ... Every week, I will look back at a former player, manager, coach or announcer who touched our lives in our yesterday.

Do you remember Jerry Martin? Beginning in 1974, he was a Phillies outfielder for five years, mainly as a defensive replacement and pinch-hitter and hit .254 overall. Martin was traded to the Cubs in 1979 and was a starter for two years before he was dealt to the Royals. Martin spent his final two years in Kansas City.

Over 11 seasons, Martin hit .251 with 85 homers and 345 RBIs.