I have developed a habit of posting a card of Hal Smith on Hal Smith’s birthday. This is the third year in a row that I will be doing such a thing. That might not sound odd at all, since I almost always tie the Card of the Day into the daily history article from that same day. However, this is a bit different.
This is the third appearance of Hal Smith, the catcher for the 1960 World Series winning Pittsburgh Pirates. All of them have been posted on June 1st over the last three years. Today is the birthday of Hal Smith, catcher/coach for the 1965 Pirates. To be honest, I actually wanted to use a card of Hal Smith, pitcher for the 1932-35 Pirates. There have been three Hal Smiths in big league history, and all of them spent time with the Pirates. The pitcher Smith spent his entire big league career with the Pirates. As a side note, all three had the first name Harold, so Hal was just a shortened version of their first name. Luckily they had different middle names so we could tell them apart.
Today’s card comes from the 1962 Post set, which was released on the side of Post cereal products. You were actually able to see the cards you were getting before making the purchase. In the Pittsburgh area, no doubt that led to a run of Roberto Clemente cards being bought first, while some other stars from the team sat around longer on the shelves. Maybe some fans wanted the Hal Smith cards because he was a World Series hero due to his game seven heroics. However, he had a rough 1961 season, then was lost in the 1961 Expansion Draft after the season, so he was already gone before these cards were being released.
Here’s the front of the card. The back is blank, like the inside of a cereal box.
These cards were produced over three years, with a somewhat similar look to all three years. You got a closeup photo of the player, some bio information, as well as one year of stats, followed by career stats.
Two things I mentioned up top are shown here. You can see the rough season for Smith in 1961. He saw his OPS drop 271 points from the 1960 season. They also mention with an asterisk that he was drafted by the Houston Colts (.45’s) in October of 1961, so it was a bit odd that they left the Pittsburgh Pirates as his team name up top. Seems like the asterisk part could have been just added to the bio section, along with listing his actual team. Since this card not only lists him on the Pirates, they use a Pirates photo, then it’s good enough for our Card of the Day feature.
These cards had to be hand-trimmed from the cereal boxes, so you’ll find all different sizes, depending on how well the person knew how to use scissors. If you look close at the edges here, there’s a black line going around the card, which was used as the guide. They left it up to people to decide whether to cut just inside the line or just outside, and some unsteady people did both, probably not on purpose. I’m sure I would have cut these off of boxes as a kid, and I’ve seen my scissor skills, so I will never knock someone’s attempt.
These cards were produced in high quantities back in 1962, so they are easy to find. The fact that they are all hand-cut, plus have nothing on the back, has kept the prices down over the years. The highest priced one is $76 for a PSA 7, then there is a sharp drop from there. You can’t find any other graded copies, so the most expensive one after that is $23, and that’s a bit over-priced. There are five autographed copies for $16 each from the same seller. If you just want one of these cards, you can get a decent looking copy for $2 delivered from multiple sellers. Just search through them for good cuts, trying to get one with all of that black box around the card.