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  #1  
Old 11-16-2020, 09:31 PM
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Jim McKinley
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Default Ed Stevens & The Case of The 1947 Tip Top Bread

Growing up, I remember listening to Paul Harvey and “The Rest of the Story…” on the radio (doesn’t that sound quant now?). Anyway, I had a “The Rest of the Story…” moment recently.

I was putting some autographed cards I had bought a couple of years ago into top loaders. I don’t usually buy autographed cards but I had bought a group on impulse. As I was loading the cards, I noticed the card pictured below: an autographed 1947 Tip Top Bread (reprint) card of Ed Stevens. As I was putting the card in the top loader, I notice Ed’s signature: extremely shaky. For some reason I found this interesting; was this a real signature?

A quick search on Google revealed others of Ed’s signatures have the same shaky handwriting. I am guessing something later in life caused Ed's hand to shake. This made me appreciate the autograph more as it meant Ed had to exert some effort into signing the card and fight through the shaking hands.

This piqued my curiosity. So, who was Ed Stevens? (The baseball player not the fictional character from the TV show ED)

Ed was a decent, but not outstanding ballplayer who was in the major leagues for 6 years and spanned 375 games. He had a lifetime batting average of .252 and hit 28 homeruns in his career.

So, why is Ed Interesting? Where is the “Rest of the Story?”

On the card below, Ed Stevens was listed as the first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers. Ed had been the primary first baseman for the Dodgers in 1946 and had bested a handful of hopefuls during spring training in 1947 to secure the starting job. Only to have Branch Rickey to make a last-minute decision to replace him with…


Jackie Robinson.


Instead of getting the starting role, Ed became a replacement player and only got to play in 5 games that season. The good news for Ed is that he did get a chance to play the following season for Pittsburg where he replaced a retiring…


Hank Greenburg.


So, here is the story… I have a card signed by a player who was replaced by Jackie Robinson, ended up replacing Hank Greenburg and who had to put forth significant effort to actually sign the card. While the card is probably not worth a lot, it has now become one of my favorites!


Of course, this does raise some questions for me:

- Why was Ed Stevens listed as the first baseman of the Dodgers on the 1947 Tip Top card? Was the artwork for the cards completed before the start of the season?

- How much more popular would the 1947 Tip Top Bread set be today had it contained the first Jackie Robinson card?
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Old 11-16-2020, 09:49 PM
mrmopar mrmopar is offline
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I think I have a couple Steven's autographs like that myself. A few other players had signatures like that too, in their later lives. Harry Eisenstat is one that comes to mind, also a Brooklyn Alumni. Not sure what exactly would cause that, but I'm sure it was not easy to write much that way.
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Old 11-16-2020, 10:03 PM
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Good stuff!!! You should be called 'St. Louis Sherlock' now.
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Old 11-17-2020, 12:00 PM
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Jim McKinley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmopar View Post
I think I have a couple Steven's autographs like that myself. A few other players had signatures like that too, in their later lives. Harry Eisenstat is one that comes to mind, also a Brooklyn Alumni. Not sure what exactly would cause that, but I'm sure it was not easy to write much that way.

I agree in that it must have been a struggle to write with a shaky hand. Makes me appreciate the autographs all the more...
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Old 11-17-2020, 04:12 PM
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I think it should be appreciated even more when compared to the "signatures" (and I use the term lightly) of some current players. Even with whatever was afflicting him, his signature is legible. What's afflicting modern day players who give you a scribble that could be accomplished by a 3-year old and a crayon?
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Old 11-19-2020, 07:41 AM
tedzan tedzan is offline
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Default Ed Stevens

Quote:
Originally Posted by STL1944 View Post

Of course, this does raise some questions for me:

- Why was Ed Stevens listed as the first baseman of the Dodgers on the 1947 Tip Top card? Was the artwork for the cards completed before the start of the season?

- How much more popular would the 1947 Tip Top Bread set be today had it contained the first Jackie Robinson card?

Hi Jim

The 1947 Tip Top (and 1947 Bond Bread) cards were designed during 1946. This we know since certain players featured in these two sets reflect teams they played for
in 1946 (instead their new teams in 1947).

Also, Jackie Robinson is remembered as a 2nd Baseman. Branch Rickey had Jackie playing at 1st Base (151 games) during the 1947 season.





TED Z

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Last edited by tedzan; 11-19-2020 at 04:47 PM. Reason: Modified scan.
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:58 PM
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Jim McKinley
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Default Print Date of 1947 Tip Top

Hi Ted,

I have learned a ton from your posts. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

I am a little confused on the creation date of the 1947 Tip Top set. Your explanation of it being from the rosters from 1946 would make sense and account for why Ed Stevens is listed as the 1B and not Jackie.

However, with just a quick scan at some of the players, the 1946 roster doesn't seem to fit.

I looked just at the Boston Braves:

Charles Barrett- 1946: St. Louis Cardinals.
Hank Camelli- 1946: Pittsburg.
Sibby Sisti - 1946: Minor leagues

If the set was designed in 1946, wouldn't these players have been listed with their previous teams?


I may be wrong, but it almost appears that the set was designed towards the end of spring training in 1947. That would account for the players above and for Ed Stevens being listed as the 1B. From what I understand is that Branch Rickey decided to insert Jackie Robinson at the last minute.

Just my guess. I am, by no means, an expert.
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Old 11-22-2020, 12:55 PM
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I donlt know much about this set but looked these guys up and needed three sources to find out all their trasaction dates, things were not quite as coherent in 1947 as they are now in terms of player slection for things like the Baseball Register or a card set.

Barrett was traded to the Braves on 12/9/46

Camelli was traded to them on 9/30/46

Sisti was sent down in 1946 as what sound like the last cut before opening day after spending all of ST with the Braves following his release from military service. He signed a Major Legaue contract with them on 1/31/47 and made the club out of ST that year.

Brooklyn trained in Havana in 1947 and had the Durocher suspension to deal with. Robinson is described in the 1948 Baseball Guide as having made the club a few days before the season's start.

Tip Top is a fascinating set being the first out of the gate essentially after the war, even though it was a bunch of loosely tied together regional issues. Hopefully someone puts all the data together on it someday as it seems very much off the radar with most collectors.

Last edited by toppcat; 11-24-2020 at 09:33 AM.
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