07 November 2014

Winfield in the Round (Part 2) - More MSA Madness

    All throughout the mid 1980s, Mike Schechter & Associates continued to churn out promotional tie-ins for the MLBPA.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the item), Dave Winfield figured into most of them.

1985 MSA Thom McAn / JOX

JOX were a line of running shoe produced by Thom McAn.

     For some reason, Beckett has long over-valued many of the discs in the set, and despite them being readily available for <$5 on eBay, they have neglected to adjust their pricing.  For example, the Dave Winfield is still listed in the $20 range (and has been for a decade).  I've owned three in the last 5 years and never paid more than $3.  Yet because of the "book value" I've been able to sell them for $5 or more to people who still believe Beckett.

1985 MSA Subway

     Despite how tough the JOX issue was to obtain in the pre-eBay era, the Subway disc is still every bit as elusive.  I started a post about these awhile back, attempting to elicit the assistance of all of you in the hobby with assembling an accurate checklist for the set.  The story goes that some Subway employee found the discs in a Subway warehouse in the Baltimore area and that they were never actually used with a promotion in the sandwich shops.  The cards are basically identical to the JOX discs, but featured blank backs.  To me, the blank backs sort of lend credence to the story as you would expect Subway to actually print some sort of advertising on them if they were actually going to use them in a promotion.

1985 KAS Potato Chips

     KAS Foods, a St. Louis based company, jumped on the ever growing bandwagon movement of baseball tie-ins to help promote KAS Potato Chips.

1985 Kitty Clover

    At exactly the same time, in Omaha, the Bachman Company had exactly the same idea and with a very similar issue, use baseball player discs to promote their Kitty Clover brand of potato chips.  Funny how that happens.  As it turns out in the late 1970s, a company called Culbro (formerly the General Cigar Company) had purchased both Bachman's and KAS and put both brands, along with the Chesty and Cain's potato chip brands they had also acquired, together to form their Snack Time division.

1986 Jiffy Pop Discs / Promos

   In 1986, Jiffy Pop, the seller of stove top popcorn for the lazy, jumped into the MSA game and included baseball player discs.  Dave Winfield was even used as the example shown on the packaging.  Prior to the issue of the set, MSA distributed a mock-up version of the Jiffy Pop discs with information on the reverse about using these sort of inserts as ways to drive sales.  Until this disc arrived among a lot I picked up on eBay, I didn't know this promo existed.  Again, Beckett has neglected to complete their checklist, and they only include 8 players in the set they call "1986 MSA Discs Jiffy Pop Test".  The Standard Catalog does include the full set, which mirrored the full 20-disc run of the regular set issued in 1986.  Almost all the discs can be found on eBay on any given day.

1986 Sportflics Jumbo Disc / Offer (non-existent?)
     The only reason I list this is because the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards has Dave Winfield listed in the set of 1986 jumbo discs that could be ordered from Sportflics.  Packs of 1986 Sportflics cards came with offer inserts to order the discs.  The only offer coupons I ever got were of Don Mattingly and Dwight Gooden, but SCD lists coupons for every player in their checklist of the set.  I do not believe their checklist is accurate as I know of no one who has ever seen a jumbo Sportflics disc of Dave Winfield.  My guess is that people confused this oversize 1985 7-Eleven disc (seen here next to the regular size 7-Eleven disc for scale) that was part of the in-store display with a Sportflics disc.

     From 1987-1990, MSA took the easy path and just re-branded the same disc design for several of their licensees.  These discs came in perforated sets of three discs; two players and an offer disc selling a facsimile autographed team ball from the team of your choice (for only $4.70 in 1987) and a poster version of the complete disc set (in exchange for 8 offer discs and 50 cents shipping & handling in 1987).  As these are all strictly regional issues, some can be more difficult to find than others.  For whatever reason, I had very little trouble finding any of the Winfields.  I think the Weis disc took me the longest of the 1987s.

1987 Key Foods

    1987 was the 50th anniversary of the Key Food Supermarket chain.  To celebrate, they enlisted MSA to provide them this set of baseball player discs.  The Key Food family of supermarkets is based around around the New York City area; founded in Brooklyn and eventually covering all five boroughs, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Living in the South my whole life, I'd never heard of them until seeing these discs.  The company is still alive and well, comprising over 160 stores in their region.  I imagine they are sort of the IGA, Big Star or Piggly Wiggly of their market.  They apparently also own the Food World brand, which used to be fairly prevalent in the South, but have now pretty much all dried up and blown away along with Winn Dixie and Food Lion.

1987 MSA Iced Tea (Baseball Super Stars)

    This generically labeled set was the "budget" option for stores that didn't want to spring for the lavish graphics work involved in adding their name to the top of the discs, resulting in a separate print run.  According to the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, these sets were used to promote a variety of regional grocery chains including Skaggs-Alpha Beta, Acme, Bustelo, King Kullen and Lady Lee.

1987 Our Own Tea

     Our Own Tea was a store brand for The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, more commonly known to shoppers as A&P.   A&P is another company that operates mostly out of the eastern seaboard and northeastern U.S.

1987 Weis Winners / Weis Markets

    Weis Markets is yet another grocery store chain operating mostly in eastern Pennsylvania, northern Maryland and closely bordering areas in New York, West Virginia and New Jersey.  Looking at these now, I'm somewhat surprised at the lack of similar issues for the rest of the U.S.  With north eastern supermarket chains featuring these promotions, I would have expected to see similar items from the likes of Winn Dixie, Kroger, IGA, Safeway, Publix, Piggly Wiggly, Ralphs, Albertsons, Luckys and Vons.  Perhaps there is an opportunity for Leaf or Panini to produce a particularly uninteresting retro regional foot set... Or even better, maybe it would give some inspiration to this guy.

1987 Topps Coins
      Briefly breaking with the MSA trend, 1987 saw the beginning of something of a nostalgic kick at Topps.  The base 1987 Topps set design was a call back to the popular wood-grain set of 1962.  Another idea they brought back were these metal "coins", last seen as inserts in packs of cards in 1964.  While they were purported to be popular with collectors, they were not issued again until 1971, and then nothing until 1987.  While they were inserts in their earlier incarnations, in 1987 they were sold in packs of three. I only remember seeing them at Toys R Us and KayBee/Circus World in the mall or at at Jennings Collectibles in town.  I never remember seeing Topps Coins in any less kid-oriented retail outlets.

     When browsing eBay you might encounter items listed as uncut "proofs" for this set.  These are actual cuts from a promotional uncut sheet that was distributed at a 1987 confectioners' convention organized by the National Association of Convenience Stores.  I assume this sheet was intended to be used as an advertising piece and, while intact copies can be found on eBay, as with many similar items, many have subsequently been chopped to pieces to sell as square "proofs".

1988 Jiffy Pop

     For the third and final year, Jiffy Pop issued a set of baseball player discs.  Given the rise of microwave popcorn, I'm shocked Jiffy Pop lasted as long as it did.

     On a personal note, I never had Jiffy Pop even once in my entire life.  Growing up,  my parents were inconsistently cheap (meaning they were cheap when it came to what the kids wanted, snack-wise, but not so much when it came to themselves) and would never spring for Jiffy Pop.  They used to hoard old cancelled checks.  I dug through them once and saw the physical evidence of my father writing checks for less than $1 for candy bars at Wal-Mart.  Seriously, in the 1970s, who didn't pay cash for a candy bar?  A Snickers was only like 25-30 cents!  As to popcorn, either my dad popped corn in a pot on the stove, then we got a hot air popper for Christmas 1979, and once we got a microwave, there was no looking back, it was Pop Secret or Orville Reddenbacher Microwave Popping Corn all the way.

    With other players rising to upper echelons of baseball superstardom, Winfield was left out of several 1988 MSA discs sets.  With a 20 player checklist, I suppose that's understandable.  So for most of these sets, it was out with Winfield, in with Puckett:

1988 Fantastic Sams
1988 Key Food
1988 King B
1988 Our Own Tea
1988 Superstars
1988 Tetley

Watch this space for Part 3!

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