30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Spartan Spirit

Card backs make up 50% of a trading card, but for some reason or another... I haven't given them my full attention for decades.  Sure I look at them when I'm sorting cards and building sets.  But honestly, most of my opinions on card sets are based on what appears on the front.  And it's been decades since I sat down and took the time to read card backs on a regular basis.

Sure... I've commented on them here and there over the years.  But I know in my heart that they've never been that important to me.  And that's a shame, because I've been really only paying attention to half of my collection.  Well thanks to The Commish, I've started to change.

Recently... he started writing posts again on his 1960 Topps set tribute blog:  Horizontal Heroes: The 1960 Topps Set.  I've been enjoying his daily posts, because he writes interesting facts about the players.

Today's post covered Bob Bruce, a Detroit Tiger pitcher that I was unfamiliar with.  While skimming the back of his card and looking at the comic, I noticed that Topps referenced Bruce's alma mater.

I immediately thought to myself... I wonder if Topps has ever mentioned San Jose State University (my alma mater) in any comics featured on the back of a 50's baseball card.

I discovered two.  One of them is the 1959 Topps card of Bob Bowman, which I don't own.  The other is the 1954 Topps card of Bob Ross.  I don't own that card either, but I do have his 1994 Topps Archives reprint card:

1994 Topps Archives '54 #189

This card was part of a large autograph collection I purchased a few years ago.  I have no idea if the signature is real or not.  And it doesn't matter, because this post isn't about autographs.  It's about the card back:

A closer look at the bottom left comic reveals that Bob was a boxing champ at San Jose State College before he serving for the military and eventually playing for the Washington Senators.

Thank you Bob and to all of the other bloggers who take the time to scan card backs.  I know I don't do it very often on my blog, but I promise that I have seen the light.  I will start looking at my card backs a little more closely and if I see anything interesting, I'll share it with you.

And just in case you do enjoy seeing autographs... here are a few other signatures I own of fellow SJSU Spartans:

Sorry.  These are previously scanned cards and I didn't scan the backs.  But here's another fellow Spartan that I scanned today:

1991 Face to Face #498

Anyone recognize this guy?

This card is part of a game called Face to Face that was released in the early 90's.  I've never played it, but I'm pretty sure you'd pull a card and have to identify the person in the photo.  Although they're technically not trading cards, they are cool collectibles that feature famous politicians, athletes, musicians, entertainers, authors, and other famous faces.

Okay... I'll wrap things up with some SNL's Spartan Spirit:

Happy Saturday and sayonara!


  1. Is that peter ueberroth? There have been a few players from my alma mater make it to the majors, and I collected their cards for a while. I don't recall the card backs referring to the school, though.

    1. Put me down for Ueberroth as well. :-D

      I'd like to do an alma mater collection, but nobody from my alma maters have appeared on cardboard... Except maybe minor league team sets. Maybe.

  2. Here's a look at that '59 Bob Bowman card with the SJSU reference in the cartoon.

    I casually collect cards of fellow Houston alums. I had a friend who did a Coog-centric card blog but it's long gone. I may have to do a few posts on some of mine. We've had our share of baseball players go on to the majors, but they lag behind the football and hoops guys.

  3. I heard he (Ueberroth)was an excellent water polo player at SJS.

  4. Ueberroth also went to high school locally (Fremont in Sunnyvale, Alma Mater of Teri Hatcher and Troy Tulowitzki as well).

  5. I love my card backs. A lot of hidden gems to be seen.

  6. I need to appreciate card backs more, just don't really look at them.

  7. That Face to Face card is kinda bizarre. A little too up close and personal!

  8. gcrl - yup. ueberroth. as for the whole card backs thing... i never would have referred to them for my alma mater until yesterday.

    shlabotnik report - yup. you and gcrl are good. i would have guessed he was an 80's politician or something. as for the alma mater thing... i know how you feel. sjsu doesn't really produce too many professional athletes anymore

    commishbob - i've found some very affordable copies of the bowman and the ross. i'll add them to my collection soon enough. and you're lucky your alma mater has produced so many awesome athletes.

    sg488 - i didn't know that. then again... i didn't know about ueberroth being a fellow spartan until yesterday

    you went to fremont high school? that's where my siblings went. my buddy went there as well.

    johnnys trading spot - i'm going to try to appreciate the more from this point forward

    sport card collectors - me too.

    the angels in order - that's how a lot of the cards from that game are. the goal is to show a few more on this blog here and there.

    1. Homestead (so Jobs, Woz, and Scott Erickson). My wife went to Fremont and then went back to teach there before she went to grad school.

    2. Is everyone from Santa Clara County? My sisters went to Monta Vista High School but we moved before I had a chance to go there.

  9. I'm a lot like you about card backs but in part because of Andy (@sportcardbacks on Twitter) I've been paying more attention to them. I read, now, every single card front-to-back as they come into my house before I file them away.

  10. I've got a nice Bob Ross 54T for you...now off to watch some of his famous painting videos (happy trees)!

  11. How does the back of that Bob Ross card not have a happy little tree that lives right about here?

  12. Where do you guys find references to stuff like that on card backs? Or college affiliations in general?

  13. nick vossbrink - i think homestead is where my niece and nephew would have went

    npb card guy - sounds like it.

    peter k steinberg - i'm working on appreciating the backs more. not at the point yet where i read every single card back. but maybe one day ;)

    mr haverkamp - i loved watching bob ross videos as a kid. very relaxing

    sean - lol. i'd love to add a bob ross (the artist) autograph to my collection. even better would be to own one of his original paintings

    gca - i started by looking up all of the sjsu players to make it to the bigs on baseball almanac. then i narrowed the list down to guys who played in the 50's and 60's. after that i went to comc and literally looked for cards of these guys. finally... if they had a topps card, i looked at the card backs. luckily there aren't a lot of mlb players who went to san jose state ;D

  14. San Jose State also gets a shout out on Ken Caminiti's 1991 Studio card. It doesn't say he went there, just says he is a fan.

    1. the snorting bull - that's pretty cool. i'm sure i have a copy of that card sitting in a box somewhere