A Brief History of Baseball Cards
By Patrick Mondout
What started out as an attempt to provide background to the 1980
Fleer/Topps lawsuit quickly grew into this article, which will not
impress knowledgeable hobby veterans, but might help others catch up.
See also: You can also read our Brief
History of Donruss, Brief
History of Fleer and Brief
History of Topps pages, which contain some information not found
Peck and Synder, a sort of Louisville Slugger/Rawlings of their day,
produced "trade cards" featuring team photos of local squads
with an advertisement for their sporting goods on the back. (A charming
April 10, 1870 New York Times article mentions the founders
offering up a pair of bats and a pair of balls as an inducement to get the
players to practice early for a game the day before. Don't think that
would work today!) While not true baseball cards, they are perhaps the
most recognizable to baseball card collectors of the forerunners. Other
trading cards, occasionally featuring baseball subjects, were produced
over the coming decades.
The Goodwin Company of New York creates what are now considered to be
the first "real" baseball cards in 1886. The 2300 or so 1½ x
2½ cards were packaged with Old Judge and Gypsy Queen cigarettes.1
They would continue distributing "tobacco cards" (and hooking
children on a product that would eventually claim 300,000 lives a year in
the U.S. alone) until 1890.2 Tobacco cards
from Allen & Ginter, Buchner & Company, Mayo & Company, and
Kimball (and others) appeared, but soon the American Tobacco Company trust
bought nearly all their competitors and no longer needed
"premiums" such as baseball cards to attract customers to their
G&B Chewing Gum of New York packages cards with their gum products.
These extremely rare cards are the first "gum" cards and the
only ones of the 19th Century.
Morris Shorin founds American Leaf Tobacco, not to be confused with the
huge tobacco trust called American Tobacco Company. Shorin's sons will
start Topps 48 years later out of the ashes of this American Leaf (pun
The American Caramel Company produces the first cards to be distributed
with caramel - a bundling that would prove popular over the next two
decades with a number of candy companies. The cards are also the first to
be distributed with something other than a deadly drug since the 19th
Century. The cards are known in the price guides by the Burdick
catalogue designation "E125."
With the former American Tobacco Company broken into many very
successful pieces, the Golden Age of Tobacco Cards begins with the set now
known as the T206 set, distributed by many former ATC companies.
Collins-McCarthy produces the first of 28 yearly sets of Pacific Coast
League baseball cards, which were distributed with their Zeenut (and
other) candies. As of this writing, only Topps has produced baseball card
sets for more consecutive years than Collins did (it broke the record in 1979).
Cracker Jack distributes some 15 million cards in its 144 card set
through boxes of its caramel popcorn and a mail-in offer. It will produce
a 176 card set the following year.
It is difficult to say whether it was the onset of World War I or
marketing by Camel, which claimed that its products were higher quality
because they did not ship with "premiums" such as baseball
cards, that brought about the virtual end of tobacco cards, but the were
almost completely gone by 1920.
DeLong, Sport Kings and Goudy produce card sets distributed with
bubblegum. Sport Kings also produces a 48 card gum set, but only three are
baseball players. The popular Goudy cards will be produced sporadically
through 1941. While they are not technically the first cards to ship with
gum, they are considered by most experts to be the true forerunners of the
Bowman and Topps cards of the 1950s.
National Chicle produces a very popular "Batter-Up" 192 card
series that will be distributed over a three year period. They also
produce a 108 card "Diamond Stars" series over the same period.
Topps Chewing Gum is founded by
brothers Abraham, Joseph E., Philip Ira, and A.J. Shorin in Brooklyn, New
York. Ironically, considering the type of company that first made baseball
cards, the Shorins were sons of Morris Shorin, who founded America Leaf
Tobacco in 1890. That company fell on hard times during the Great
Depression and the sons decided gum was a better bet.
Gum Incorporated, whose president was Warren Bowman, produces a set of
non-sports cards to promote their Blony brand of bubblegum. The set is
called "Horrors of War" and features three cards of Adolph
Hitler. The cards were the brainchild of Gum's ad agency George Moll
Advertising. Moll had collected British cigarette cards as a child.
Gum Inc. produces its first set of Play Ball baseball cards. It will
continue producing them until a few months after the attack on Pearl
A book called The United States Card
Collector’s Catalog (later called the "American Card Catalog:: A
Gateway to the Enchantment of Days Gone By - The Standard Guide on All
Collected Cards and Their Values") is published. Author
Jefferson R. Burdick's book is the first ever to attempt to catalog the
various baseball card issues (actually, it covered all card types). His
designations, such as T206 or W515, are still used today. Ironically, the
man now seen as one of the great early figures of the hobby was not a
baseball card collector at heart, his hobby was any American printed
ephemeral material (he later wrote a book on postcards).
The book started out as a magazine article in 1936 and became a
typewritten, mimeographed work by 1938. While only a small portion of the
original book actually covers the important baseball card sets of the day,
its importance cannot be overstated and even 1967 reprints regularly sell
for over $100. It was the first, and for many years the only, reference to
Paper and rubber3 shortages halt the
production of cards until after the war. A few regional sets are produced
in '46 and '47.
J.R. Burdick begins to donate his massive collection of cards (and
other "ephemeral Americana") to the New York Metropolitan Museum
of Art. He spends a good portion of his remaining 16 years gluing the
materials into albums at the museum, where most of them remain today.
The importance of the collection is clearly not understood by the staff
as very few of the cards are ever put on a rotating display and only one
item from his donation, an 1880 lithograph of a pair of elephants, is
among their online collection. According to an April 19, 1964 New York
Times article on baseball cards, the "$250" Honus Wagner was
among the donations. This is the same T206 card that in recent years has
sold for over $1 million!
Gum Inc. changes its name to Bowman Gum, Inc., after its president
Warren Bowman. In June of 1947, the Philadelphia company goes public with
an initial share price of $7.125.
Bowman prints its landmark 1948 set, distributed with popular Blony
bubblegum. As Bowman is the same company as Gum, Inc., this set is a
direct descendant of the pre-war Play Ball sets.
Leaf produces the first color baseball cards of the post-WW2 era. The
cards were shipped very early in the year and some include 1948 copyrights
(though all Leaf baseball cards from the era were "1949" cards).
Leaf's set was not attractive, but it did include the only 1949 cards of
Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, who had signed exclusive deals with the
Bowman produces its first color set in 1949, though it uses black and
white photos that are tinted with colors and they are not particularly
attractive. Bowman's savvy practice of signing players to exclusive
contracts would make it nearly impossible for others, such as Leaf, to
compete in the future. Indeed, Leaf cards were not produced again until a
single set in 1960.
Topps Chewing Gum of New York begins marketing Hopalong Cassidy cards
with its gum products. It also works late in they year with a company
called Players Enterprises to get the rights to produce baseball cards.
Bowman has no competition in baseball cards for the only year.
Topps uses the fact that Bowman's "exclusive" contracts only
cover cards distributed with chewing gum to its advantage. The company
produces its first sets of baseball cards and distributes them with
caramel candy instead of gum. Sy Berger of Topps later claimed the cards
were a disaster and the finish "smelled like kerosene."4
As the players had contracts with Bowman that only lasted a year or
two, Topps also began signing "free agent" (in the baseball card
sense) players to contracts that allowed the company to include gum. Their
contracts also contained a provision requiring that the player not assign
similar rights to any other firm.
To make sure no one else can use the "caramel" trick as Topps
had, Bowman also include language in their new contracts regarding their
exclusive right to market baseball cards with "confectionary
With the new contracts in place, Topps produces packs of cards with gum
in them. A showdown was inevitable. Haelan Laboratories (Bowman's parent
company) promptly sued Topps.
The '52 Topps set is one of the most popular of all time and contains
early cards of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. It was also the biggest one
year set ever, with 407 cards and Topps increased the size of each card to
2⅝ x 3¾.
After a judge initially ruled for Topps, Bowman wins on appeal. In a
landmark decision that established an individual's marketing/advertising
rights to their own image,5 the Second
Circuit court of appeals sided with Haelan/Bowman. Getting a picture of
your favorite player during this era often means buying the right brand of
cards as many appear in only Bowman or only Topps sets (in fact Stan
Musial only appeared on Rawlings "cards" after 1953 until
finally appearing on a Topps card in 1958).
As the competition for kids spare change heats up, Bowman decides to
produce a full color set - a risky and expensive idea. The company
produces some of the most beautiful cards ever in their first series of
1953 and they are the first to use actual color photographs rather than
paintings or hand colored black and whites.
Bowman mysterious printed a black and white set later in 1953, rather
than a another series of the color cards. It has been conjectured that as
the costs of competing and litigating with Topps mounted, they felt the
need to cut costs. As yet, no actual proof that this was the reason for
the existence of the late '53 B&W set has surfaced and, at this late
date, none is likely to emerge.
Brothers Don and Russell Weiner inherit the Thomas Weiner Company -
makers of "Super Bubble" bubblegum - from their father. They
rename the company Donruss.
Redman produces its, and happily the industry's, final "tobacco
Topps purchases Bowman in January and enjoys a monopoly position in the
current-player bubblegum baseball card business for another quarter
century. Topps retained the "confectionary" language in their
standard player contract. This was an era where cards were used to get
kids to buy a particular company's gum and not the other way around.
Topps standard practice in this timeframe was to determine who the
potential Major Leaguers were while they were still in the minors and sign
them to an exclusive contract for $5. Topps does nothing unless the player
reaches the majors; these contracts are only to prevent others from ever
signing a major league player. When the player reached the majors, Topps
gave the players merchandise, such as a color TV, each year that their
pictures were used. This later changed to a flat payment of $125, though a
catalog of electronic goodies from RCA and GE was sent out to players. The
players could choose the merchandise, which Topps picked up for wholesale
prices, in lieu of the check.
A few did slip through: Maury Wills was with
the Detroit Tigers briefly in his early minor league career (on loan from
the Dodgers, such arrangements were possible then) and Topps' contract
representative - a former Dodgers scout - Turk Karam was told by a team
official that Wills wasn't a prospect, and so he wasn't signed. He signed
with Fleer later and would not appear on a Topps card until 1967, five
years after he won the MVP award.
Seymour "Sy" Berger of Topps later said, "Maury stayed
angry at us for quite some time..." As a result of the Wills'
miscalculation, Topps stopped trying to scout minor leaguers and gave them
all $5 contracts.4
Fleer, a Philadelphia company founded a century earlier and known for
creating the first wildly successful bubblegum (Double Bubble), produces
an 80 card set honoring Ted Williams. Williams, who along with Joe
DiMaggio had been a Leaf exclusive in 1949, signed an exclusive contract
with the company for $5,000.6
The set is distributed in six and eight card wax-packs. The cards
feature Ted as a child, Ted in the military, Ted with his daughter, Ted
signing a contract for 1959, etc. The latter card got Fleer in trouble as
it also features former manager Bucky Harris, who was still technically
under an exclusive contract with Topps. The card was withdrawn and is
quite valuable today.
Leaf gets around the language in the Topps' contracts by producing 5¢
wax packs of their black and white cards with a pair of marbles (real ones
- not candy). The set looks like something out of the 1940s and is not
popular with kids (who are still the market for the cards).
Fleer distributes a set of 79 cards of retired stars. This is the first
national set to actually feature old timers. They will produce a similar
set in 1961.
On February 8, 1962, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused Topps
of attempting to corner the market on baseball picture cards.
Specifically, the government claimed Topps was in violation of Section
Five of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC announced that it was
investigating Topps' exclusive contracts with Major League Baseball
Former FTC chairman Earl W. Kintner apparently sees no ethical issues
with defending an alleged monopolist against the agency he used to chair
and accepts Topps' offer to be their chief counsel.
The FTC complaint points out that Topps had exclusive contracts with
414 of 421 major leaguers and had already signed 1500 minor leaguers to
the infamous $5 contracts, which bind the player to the company for their
first five years in the majors. Once in the majors, they were paid $125
per year by Topps, regardless of stature of seniority.
Topps executive Vice-President Joel Shorin, a son of one of the
founders, was quoted by the New York Times as saying the
government's complaint lacked, "any valid foundation." Topps
would later claim that Fleer had provoked the case. Fleer did supply
witnesses and file legal briefs with the FTC.7
In a formal response to the inquiry on March 16, Topps denied the
monopolizing charges and claimed their exclusive contracts did not
directly affect interstate commerce and thus, their activities were beyond
the scope of antitrust laws or the FTC itself.
Embolden by the FTC complaint, Fleer decides to go ahead and print
cards featuring current major leaguers. In a real coup for the company,
Fleer is able to print the first and only card of current NL MVP Maury
In an attempt to not violate the "confectionary" clause of
the Topps contracts, Fleer produces a very low sugar cherry cookie to
distribute with the packs. A Topps executive later told the FTC that
cookies tasted like "a dog biscuit." This begs the question as
to how he would have known what either tasted like.8
Fleer apparently gives up due to poor sales after producing a first
series of 66 cards.9
The start of formal FTC hearings into the case are delayed by the
assassination of President Kennedy and begin on December 2, 1963.
The FTC case drags on through seven weeks of testimony before further
details of the allegations are revealed on January 30: The commission
accused Topps of forcing unwanted Bazooka gum on wholesalers with the
implied threat that they would not receive requested quantities of the
popular baseball card products if they refused to buy the Bazooka gum in
sufficient quantities. Such ties by a monopolist are illegal, as the
Microsoft case later demonstrated.8
Topps' chief counsel Earl Kintner asked that the case be dismissed as
the company's contracts did not forbid the sale of cards with items other
than candy or gum. He used the Leaf "marbles" cards of 1960 and
even "cookie" cards as examples and produces documents showing
the General Mills had distributed 1.7 million cards on Post cereal boxes
in the previous three years.10
The transcripts of the proceedings weighed in at a massive 4,075 pages
and there were over 770 exhibits - some of them quite tasty.11
In September, the FTC's Herman Tocker ordered Topps to stop signing
players to exclusive contracts for gum cards starting on November 1, 1964
and to cease enforcing the existing contract on October 31, 1966. He also
ordered Topps to provide copies of their contracts to each player. Topps
filed suit on October 2 asking the FTC to revoke the order.
On April 30, 1965, the FTC commissioners themselves overruled Tocker
and closed the case against Topps declaring that Topps did not have an
illegal hold on the market and that no evidence had been produced that
pictures of baseball players were an important competitive factor in the
selling of gum products.12
The 11 page ruling essentially agreed with Topps' assertions that there
was no separate industry for baseball cards and that Fleer seemed to be
doing fine as a bubble gum concern (an industry the commission apparently was
willing to recognize) despite not being able to market cards with its
gum. Its remarkable in retrospect that the gum was seen as the product
with the cards merely as a marketing ploy to sell the gum, but that is how
it all started.
Unable to print baseball cards with its famous gum, Fleer sells the
contracts it has with baseball players to Topps for $395,000. Most
observers conclude they will never see another Fleer baseball card.
Maury Wills finally appears in a Topps set as a result of the Fleer
contracts purchase. Fleer had an exclusive with Wills dating to the 1950s.
General Mills purchases Memphis, Tennessee confectionary and non-sport
card producer Donruss.
Kellogg's distributes 3D
baseball cards with their Corn Flakes cereal in the first of fourteen
The sales of chewing gum in the U.S. hit $1B for the first time. It
will hit twice that in 1977 thanks in part to inflation.
A unique book on baseball cards of the 1950s and 60s is published
Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book by
Brendan C. Boyd and Fred Harris. This is not some price guide, but a trip
down memory lane for anyone who both loved baseball and collected baseball
cards in the 50s and 60s, complete with hundreds of full-color pictures of
Topps cards from the era. This was the first book for adult card
collectors that was fun. Indeed, nothing like has been published since.
The book has an interesting quote from Sy Berger of Topps that is
telling regarding the monopoly the company enjoyed: "You see, it
really isn't to the player's advantage to hold out on us. What's the
point? He has nothing to gain and everything to lose." In other
words, since there are no other card producers to sell the rights to their
image to, they had no leverage so they had better just accept Topps'
terms, which were non-negotiable for an individual player.
Topps releases a
complete set of baseball cards in one series for the first time.
Factory sets are also sold (through Sears in their Christmas Wishbook) for
the first time.
Fleer is rebuffed in its efforts to negotiate a deal with the Major
League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA)
to make satin patches featuring the likeness of various players.
In June, Fleer files a suit in the Federal District Court of
Philadelphia seeking damages due to Topps alleged "illegal restraint
of trade" as a result of its exclusive deal with the MLBPA.
The MLBPA in the person of Marvin
Miller seems unaware he is costing his clients extra income by not
allowing other firms to create cards. He tells the New York Times,
"From what I know of the Topps promotion, I think it has been an
excellent promotion for baseball... And I naturally would not like to see
it disrupted."13 The association is
not, however, named as a co-defendant.
prints the first of five annual sets of baseball cards on its boxes of
bakery treats. Apparently Twinkies are not "confectionary"
Topps' attempts to get the 1975 suit thrown out on the grounds that the
FTC had settled the issue in 1965 fail when the Supreme Court refuses to
overturn a lower-court decision which found that the company had to stand
trial. The Third Circuit appeals court had ruled that Fleer was never
actually a party to the FTC action nor had they appealed it, so they still
had a legal right to pursue the matter through the Federal Courts.14
In the case Fleer brought to court five years earlier, Judge Clarence
Newcomer rules that Topps, "unlawfully restrained and monopolized
trade" in the baseball card market. Fleer, which had been prevented
from distributing current-player cards with its gum since a 1965 FTC
ruling in favor of Topps, had asked for $16M in damages. Newcomer cited
his own inability to estimate actual damages and awarded $1, which was
tripled to $3 since this was an antitrust case. (The figure is often
quoted as $3 million, but like in the USFL case six years later, it was
The judge also suggested that interested companies should work with the
MLB Player's Association to reach agreements to produce cards. Newcomer
specifically asked the MLBPA to "consider carefully any applications
it receives for licenses.15
While Fleer was disappointed in not receiving a meaningful damage
award, it was delighted with the decision overall and got to work on
producing a set of cards for the 1981 season.
They were not alone. In fact, it was Donruss of Memphis, Tennessee who
announced the first agreement with the Player's Association to create
cards for the '81 season.
Both Donruss and Fleer (and later Score and Upper Deck) had blanket
deals with the Player's Association rather than deals with individual
players, like Topps. Ironically, this meant that Topps would once again
have exclusives, starting with anyone who was a "replacement
player" during the mid-90s strike and more recently, Barry Bonds.16
Topps virtual monopoly is ended with Fleer
and Donruss each releasing 600+ card
sets. Significantly, all three companies ship packs of cards with gum.
In August, the a three member U.S. Court of
Appeals panel overturned the Newcomer verdict and claimed Topps was not in
violation of the antitrust laws because that the new companies were free
to sign players as minor leaguers (as Topps had been doing for three
decades) and over time would have enough major leaguers to sell cards.
Marvin Miller, who had been opposed to anything but an exclusive deal
with Topps until Judge Newcomer's initial decision, was not happy with the
ruling. Donruss and Fleer's licensing fees allowed the Player's
Association to more than double payments to the players during a season in
which many had lost wages due to the strike.
When the news initially broke, it seemed Donruss and Fleer were out of
the baseball card business. It was only after reviewing the decision that
lawyers for each company determined that they could distribute their cards
in 1982 in wax packs with something other than confectionary products,
such as gum. (The moral of the story? Don't chew gum and sell cards at the
same unless your name is Topps.)
Donruss and Fleer distribute their second sets of baseball cards.
Donruss replaces the gum in their wax packs with thick
cardboard puzzle pieces while Fleer substitutes team
logo stickers. Topps will later call the stickers a "sham"
product and file another suit against Fleer.
With the new ruling that its exclusive contracts to produce cards with
gum were valid after all, Topps files suit asking for all profits Fleer
made in 1981 selling baseball cards with gum plus $3M in damages. The two
companies would eventually settle out of court many years later.
Interestingly, Topps did not go after Donruss' profits. It has been
suggested that Topps believed it had a better shot against Fleer's lawyers
than General Mills' - parent of Donruss - and that they could use a
judgment against Fleer as leverage in an out-of-court settlement with
Donruss. It has also been suggested that it was out of spite, since the
two firms had been at each other's throats for at least three decades.
Topps sues Fleer yet again. This time Topps alleged that the cards sold
with team logo stickers were an illegal attempt to get around Topps'
exclusive right to market baseball "in combination with chewing gum
or other confectionary product." I never knew the stickers were
edible! There's some crazy, twisted, lawyer-logic in there somewhere.
Ah, here it is: The '82 ruling agreed that Topps actually had the
exclusive right to produces baseball cards with confectionary products or
without them. In other words, Topps was alleging that while Fleer
could ship cards with pizzas, steak knives, and car stereos, it could not
ship them by themselves or with gum and that the team logo stickers were a
"sham" product used to get around this.
It may be coincidental, but this was also the last year Fleer sold
their baseball Star Stickers with a slab of gum. They used - you guessed
it - team logo stickers in 1984.
General Mills sells its stake in Donruss to a Finnish company named
Huhtamaki that was on a buying spree. That company also bought Beatrice
Foods and Leaf and merged the three confectionary companies to form
Topps and Fleer announce they have settled the '83 case and agree that
Fleer can distribute its cards with stickers.
With the Player's Associations asking its players not to sign or renew
contracts with Topps, the company files an antitrust lawsuit against the
association alleging illegal restraint of trade!17
Leaf produces its first set of baseball
cards since 1960. The set is intended as a Donruss equivalent for the
Canadian market ala O-Pee-Chee.
With the number of cards printed nearly doubling each year, another
company produces its inaugural set. The Score
baseball cards are lauded for their excellent photo reproduction and
With collector's interest in early cards at an all-time high, Topps
decides to print a set of cards
under the Bowman name, which they still own the rights to. It was seen
as a commercial failure, but held enough interest to to keep the brand
alive and Topps produced Bowman cards well into the next century.
Upper Deck secures the fifth Major League baseball card license and
produces a landmark set.
Topps announces that it will no longer include gum with its baseball
cards. The gum had long since created value for the packages and instead
was damaging at least one card in every pack. Ironically for a pair of
companies that fought and lost in court to include gum in their packages,
Fleer and Donruss had been at a competitive advantage for years because
their packs did not suffer from such damage.18
According to the index of the Beckett Baseball Card Price Guide, there
were far more individual baseball card sets produced in 2002 than there
were in the first 100 years (1887-1986).
Friday, May 13th 2005 was unlucky day for Fleer and its employees. The
company announced it was laying off most of its employees. The assets were
to be auctioned off. While someone will doubtless purchase the Fleer name,
the company founded in 1885 by Frank H. Fleer is no more.
This leaves Upper Deck, Donruss, and venerable Topps as the major
producers of cards, though it is possible the Fleer name will be
resurrected by whomever wins it at auction. Topps is rumored to be
shopping its confectionary line in order to concentrate on cards.
With the baseball card market completely flooded with product and
rumors of contraction abound, the MLB Player's Association announces on
July 25, 2005 that it will only license Topps and Upper Deck to produce
cards starting in 2006. A press release from by Donruss/Playoff quotes
owner Ann Powell as saying, "We are, of course, disappointed and sad
about the future loss of our partnership with baseball and understand it
was a very tough decision to make. We will continue to produce and deliver
the highest quality baseball products for the remainder of the year. All
of us at Donruss love being a part of this industry and remain fully
committed to the football and entertainment products in the coming
Although Upper Deck may technically release "Fleer" branded
cards in 2006, it really means that there were more baseball producers in
1981 than their will be in 2006!
If you can't get enough, you can also read our "Brief History
of" series on Topps, Fleer
1: We will never know for sure how many variations of these cards were
printed. Some rare ones are doubtless lost to history and new ones are
found every few years.
2: Anecdotal evidence that children encouraged their fathers to smoke is
offer by this quote from early baseball card guide creator J.R. Burdick in
a 1955 article published in the Syracuse Herald Journal: "Practically
every small boy saved these kind of cards. We made our dads use certain
brands whether they liked them or not." (Source is A
Collector’s Guide to Baseball Cards by Troy Kirk, page 90.) The
industry has been punished more than once for marketing to kids and the
ones I grew up with had no trouble getting cigarettes. Do you think
kids in the 1880s did? (And if you really believe that it was a more
"innocent" era, go ahead and read the New York Times from the
era. I have. My conclusion? Humans were just as brutal and dishonest then
as now. Perhaps even more so.)
3: Rubber is used in the production of gum.
4: The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book
by Brenden Boyd and Fred Harris; pages 42-44; 1975; Warner Paperback. The
$5 figure, which had originally been just $1, was still current at least
as late as 1973.
USA Today; March 27, 2001; "Topps Facts" by Cesar Brioso and
Mike Dodd: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/stories/2001-03-27-cards-facts.htm
5: AHRC Research Center for Studies in Intellectual Property and
Technology Law: http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrb/personality/uscases.asp#Haelan.
6: SABR Nine; "Interview with Sy Berger"
7: New York Times; April 18, 1978; "Bubble-Gum Makers Warm Up For
Test On Baseball Cards" by Warren Weaver, Jr.; page 53.
8: New York Times; January 30, 1964; "Bubble-Gum Suit Fills 3,000
Pages" by McLandish Phillips; page 21.
9: Fleer had contracts with enough players to make a much larger set. It
has been claimed elsewhere that Topps sued Fleer over the first series,
but I can find no evidence of this. Furthermore, Fleer did give testimony
claiming that the ability for them to market cards with their gum was
essential for the company to compete in the bubblegum business (these
cards shipped with cookies). It also makes no sense in light of the fact
that Topps lawyer Earl Kintner used the Fleer "cookie" set as an
example of how the other companies were free to market cards - just not
with gum. I also am unable to find contemporary articles which reference a
'63 lawsuit by Topps over the Fleer set. Please correct me via the Contact
Us link at the top of this page if you have verifiable evidence of this
10: New York Times; February 19, 1964; "Topps Denies It Has Cornered
Baseball Trading Card Field" by McLandish Philips; page 23.
11: Diamonds are Forever: The Business of Baseball, pages 94-103. This
book points out that the exhibits and documentation from the case are
still held by the National Archives!
12: UPI Wire story; May 22, 1965; "Bubble Gum Maker Is Cleared By
F.T.C. of Monopoly Charge."
13: New York Times; July 10, 1975; "Topps Called Off-Base" by
Lawrence Van Gelder; page 33.
14: New York Times; April 23, 1978; "High Court on Taxes and Bubble
Gum"; page F19.
15: The Sporting News; July 19, 1980; "Topps' Bubble Bursts."
16: Those replacement players, such as Cory Lidle, are not allowed to be
members of the union. As such, only Topps has ever produced cards of these
players. Barry Bonds left the MLBPA to seek out his own deals in late 2004
and only Topps printed cards of him in 2005.
17: New York Times; November 11, 1985; "Sticky Holdout" by
Robert Thomas; page C2.
18: Collectors of all three brands had suffered from wax stains from wax
packs, which were sealed using heat causing some of the wax on the paper
to seep into the bottom card. Score was the first major company to not use
any wax packaging in 1988.