02 May 2010

"License and registration, please."

"Sorry, officer, I must've left my MLB Properties license in my other pants."

In the late 1980s, you knew you were highly touted as an up-and-coming prospect when there were a handful of these babies on the dealer's tables at card shows. These Rookies sets began in 1987 and continued on until at least 1990. Branded "Broders"; a catch-all term for unlicensed cards that got the name after photographer Rob Broder issued a couple of sets of full color cards that were intended as advertising for his 8" x 10" photos, but which ended up taking on a life of their own.

There was a set issued in 1987 with Broder's name on the back, but then there was this set with the cartoon on the reverse, which is what continued year after year. In some cases, players were included in the sets for several years. They typically sold for anywhere from 25¢-50¢ per card, and though the hobby magazines were always adamant that they held no collector value, dealers had no trouble selling them (in some cases, in the aforementioned magazines). Due to their unlicensed nature, these days, these sets can be extremely difficult to track down as they were issued in a wide variety of names, rarely featured any indication of who printed them and are no longer listed in any of the current price guide and catalog publications (though SCD's Standard Catalog listed many such sets as recently as their 2003 edition).

This was the first such unlicensed card issued of Hensley Meulens.

In 1989, Meulens would make it into the first series of the set. Another feature that makes these sets tough to pin down is how they differ in dimensions. Some had square corners, some with smaller rounded corners and some with an extremely rounded corners (like the 1987 Indiana Blue Sox set).

1989 saw more producers get into the unlicensed arena, but almost all of these other sets, like these from the 1989 All-American Promo Cards Series, were probably just re-printed from widely available glossy 8" x "10 photos.

Pacific Cards & Comics, a card shop in Los Angeles, CA, was one of few producers of these sets that actually included their name on the cards (The Press Box being the notable other such shop).

These are the only unlicensed cards of Hensley Meulens that I know of, that first of the Pacific cards being the last I've tracked down. If anyone knows of any not shown here, I'd be very interested in knowing about them.

Returning to the present day, here's great piece by Lowell Cohn on Hensley Meulens, his approach as the Giant's hitting coach and the results so far:

Cohn: Bam Bam's placid approach has Giants hitting better

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