Topps 1963 Baseball Card Set - Dreams Alive and Dreams Dashed
May 26, 2011
by William Szczepanek
The Spring of 1963 was a great time for young people. The Beatles were invading America, music was changing quickly and kids, both boys and girls, wanted to become astronauts. For the first time in 8 years Topps had competition from Fleer who had an exclusive contract with Maury Wills. Topps produced an over abundance of cards for the first three sets and those following are more rare.
Topps designed another classic with large color photos in a vertical design, a colorful bottom panel and another black and white action shot in a small circle bottom right. The black and white shots disappointed a little because they appeared to be cutouts pasted on a color background, but, all in all, the design worked, was new and was liked by most.
The backs of the cards were also done well with bright yellow gold ink on a white background with black letters. Depending on career length the cards might also have cartoons and more description. The set was composed of 576 cards in seven series. Series one, #001 - #109, two, #110 -#196, three, #197 - #283, four, #284 - #370, five, #371 - #446, six, #447 - #522 and finally seven, #523 - #576.
The first series started with 10 cards depicting league leaders from the previous year followed by the first regular card of the year, Lee Walls. The set included team cards for all twenty teams. Multi-player cards were common and included #18 Buc Blasters, #43 Veteran Masters, #68 Friendly Foes, #138 Pride of N.L., #173 Bombers' Best, #306 Star receivers, #218 Tigers, #331 Series Foes, #392 Tribe Thumpers and #412 Dodgers' Big Three and #242 Power Plus. The 1963 did not include an All Star set and was 22 cards shorter than the previous year. The second series included The World Series subset , #142 - #148, depicting the Yankees and Giants.
The rookie cards, including card #573 of Pete Rose, included 3 other players and the no-neck head shots were positively ugly. Kids hated them and often threw them away as they rifled through new packs. I have no idea why this card has a $1,000 price tag, other than the fact that it was a rare occurrence that many of the cards ended up being ripped apart by bicycle spokes or thrown away.
The AL Rookie of the Year, Gary Peters was also celebrated with a no-neck card.
1963 in Baseball
With expansion in place and twenty teams competing the pennant races were decided early with the Yankees beating the second-place White Sox by 10 1/2 games and the Dodgers leading the Cardinals by 6 games at the end of the season.
The Dodgers took the Yankees in 4 straight in the World Series. Tommy Davis led the Dodgers hitting .400 and Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Podres handled the Bronx Bombers. Koufax set the record at the time for 15 strikeouts in a World Series game. Bob Gibson would break the record with 17 strikeouts against the Tigers in 1968.
On April 11th Warren Spahn beat the Mets 6-1 for his 328th win, the most by a left-hander. He would maintain the record by recording a total of 363. Later on September 8th Spahn would tie Christy Mathewson with 13 20-win seasons.
On April 13th Pittsburgh Pirate's Bob Friend balked 4 times in a single game. Not be outdone, on May 4th Bob Shaw of the Milwaukee Braves set the record of 5 balks in a game and ties the record of 3 balks in an inning.
On May 11th Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers pitched his 2nd no-hitter to beat the San Francisco Giants, 8-0. On May 17th Don Nottebart of the Houston Colt .45's pitched a no hitter against the Phillies, 4-1. On June 15 San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal no-hit the Houston Colt .45s, 1-0. On May 22nd Mickey Mantle displayed his power by hitting a ball off the famed Yankee Stadium facade.
In 1963 starting pitchers often went the distance. On July 2nd Willie Mays hit a home run in the 16th inning to give Juan Marichal of the Giants a win over Warren Spahn of the Braves, 1-0 as both pitchers battled to the end.
On Aug 9th - New York Mets pitcher Roger Craig's record tying 18-game losing streak ended. He ended the season 5-22 with an ERA of 3.78. In 1962 he was 10-24.
On July 31st - Cleveland set the record of 4 consecutive home runs (Woody Held, Pedro Ramos, Tito Francona, Larry Brown). The record has been tied numerous times since. It is interesting to note that none of the Cleveland players were noted home run hitters and Pedro Ramos was a good hitting pitcher.
On September 15th Felipe, Matty, & Jesus Alou play in an all brother outfield for the Giants. On September 18th 1,752 see the Phillies beat the Mets 5-1 in the final game at Polo Grounds before moving to Shea Stadium.
The Major League Rules Committee voted to expand the strike zone to help the pitchers and Sam Rice, Eppa Rixey, Elmer Flick, & John Clarkson were elected to Baseball Hall of Fame. Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants signed a the first $100,000 per year contract followed soon after by the same contract amount for Mickey Mantle.
Baseball Awards for 1963
Most Valuable Player: Elston
Howard New York is the first black MVP in the (AL);
RBI Leader: Dick Stuart, Boston 118; Henry Aaron, Milwaukee 130
Wins: Whitey Ford, New York 24; Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles and Juan Marichal, San Francisco 25
ERA: Gary Peters, Chicago (AL) 2.33; Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles (NL) 1.88
Strikeouts: Camilo Pascual, Minnesota (AL) 202; Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles (NL) 306
Around the World in 1963
Gas was 29 cents a gallon and the automobile was king. The first touch tone phones were introduced by AT&T, while our location became a number with emergence of the first zip codes in the U.S. This didn't stop postage rates from going up 25% from 4 cents to 5 cents.
The tape cassette was first used to record and play audio. A pull tab can is first used for soda. Initially, the pull ring often broke off the can. The modern decor of the fifties was on the wane as lava lamps gave an eerie but peaceful ambiance to a room. Instant replay is used for the first time and Americans begin to gain weight as the first remote control is okayed for use by the FCC.
Jets now commonly streaked across America's skies as the Boeing 727 made its first flight. You knew it was around because it was one of the noisiest commercial jetliners ever built. The first prototype Learjet also made its appearance.
On June 26th Kennedy visited West Berlin to make his "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner) speech. The Thresher, a US atomic-powered submarine, sank in the Atlantic.
The daily news was not such a big thing, but NBC extended its
evening network news to 30 minutes as most Americans said that
they get more of their news from television than newspapers.
The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a "hot line" between the two nations to improve communications and mitigate a Nuclear War, while Khrushchev bragged to have a 100-megaton nuclear bomb. Concern over radioactive fallout in the atmosphere due to the enormous amount of testing led to an agreement among the U.S., Soviet Union and Great Britain in which the nations agreed to ban testing in the atmosphere, under water and on the surface. Underground testing continued, but the feeling was that nuclear bomb testing was now diminishing. Most countries have signed the treaty; however it is interesting to note that China, France and North Korea have not.
JFK signed a law for equal pay for equal work for men and women. Governor George Wallace tried to prevent blacks from registering at the University of Alabama. JFK followed with a simple statement that segregation is morally wrong and that it is "time to act" in his Civil Rights Address, in which he proposed "the kind of equality of treatment that we would want for ourselves."
On August 28th 250,000 people marched on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It marked a turning point in the civil rights movement where equality for ALL exemplified the mood of the country going forward. It is amazing how far backward we have travelled in just the last few years.
Top Songs of 1963
The songs of 1963 were geared to the young. The charts were watched by the teens but controlled by the radio stations. The young were being manipulated, but really didn't mind because new songs came out every week and in the majority of cases they were by the young and for the young. The baby boomers had the attention of the world and they would not give it up. The Beatles released Please Please Me and Ask Me Why and the British invasion began. Teenagers reminisced by listening to "the oldies" on the radio. None of the oldies were more than ten years old.
Top Movies of 1963
Elizabeth Taylor was considered the most beautiful woman in the world and showed everyone why in Cleopatra, a Hollywood epic that was actually a pretty bad movie but one that everyone wanted to see. While music catered to the young the big movies were for adults, but many lower budget movies like Son of Flubber appealed to the kids. James Bond makes his first appearance in Dr. No.
Tops ten grossing films:
Most Most Popular Television Shows of 1963
The Outer Limits premiered on ABC , the Julia Child's Show The French Chef premiered on PBS, The Fugitive premiered on ABC and Petticoat Junction premiered on CBS . Comedy reigned in the television ratings. It was a time to laugh and enjoy life and its follies.
November 22, 1963
Suddenly, our dreams were dashed by a bullet. President Kennedy was dead. In an instant, everyone aged. The age of Camelot was over. The age of innocence had ended. The world grieved. Citizens of all ages and colors cried, not at the loss of his life, but at the prospect that their own dreams were being stripped away. Maybe it was because he was so young. Maybe because gave he gave the nation so much confidence.
In President Johnson's first hours, he implored the nation for help. He could not do it alone. It was a painfully truthful statement, but one that left everyone wondering what was to come. Reality was harsh. We all felt that we needed to work together to make up for the loss, but the turmoil of the sixties was only just beginning.