15 March 2016

1987 Smokey Bear 38th Annual Fresno Hot Stove League Dinner


     Returning to the "I've never heard of that set" department, I present this set from 1987, apparently sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and presumably handed out at the 38th Annual Fresno Hot Stove League Dinner.  The Fresno Hot Stove League Dinner, now officially the Hot Stove Gala, began in 1948, started by a gentleman by the name of Al Radka, as a fundraiser for local charities.  1990 was the first interruption after 41 years, when the function was cancelled on account of the expense of bringing in big name players (who had donated their time in years past).

     In 2003, the Fresno Grizzlies brought it back and established the Al Radka Award to bestowe on individuals who have made important contributions to local Fresno sports.  The 55th Annual event was just held this past February, with Tony DeFrancesco, manager of the 2015 Triple-A National Champion Fresno Grizzlies as the guest speaker.

     These cards are 4"x 6", feature black and white photos and fire prevention tips (or cheesy slogans) on the back in the form of cartoons.  The design is very similar to the 1987 Fire Prevention Team set which featured a much more prominent line-up of contemporary All-Stars.  For this set, it appears some, if not all, of the photos have been recycled from other cards or publicity photos.  The Rudy May photo was clearly copied from the 1983 Yankees Photo Album.

     The set is almost entirely comprised of players from West Coast teams or those simply from the West Coast, namely Rex Hudler, who wouldn't play in California until joining the Angels in 1994, but had been a local Fresno high school standout and Ron Robinson, who would never play on the West Coast, but was drafted out of Woodlake High School in Woodlake, California (about an hour southeast of Fresno).  This set caught my eye because it included a previously unknown (to me) card of Dave Henderson.  While Hendu is shown in a Boston cap, at the time of the Dinner, he had already been traded from Boston to San Francisco, granted free agency, and signed by Oakland.

     As of this posting, copies of the set are still available on eBay.  The checklist is currently assumed to be complete.  Scans of all cards are available at the Trading Card Database.

Smokey Bear
Mike Aldrete
Chris Codiroli
Dave Henderson
Rick Honeycutt
Rex Hudler
Reggie Jackson
Wally Joyner
Bill Krueger
Don Larsen
Rudy May
Bob Melvin
Tom Niedenfuer
Ron Robinson
Steve Sax
Dave Stewart
Franklin Stubbs
Jim Wohlford

1 comment:

  1. GREAT pick up! These babies are hard to find and there are many quality players in that set... I'm jealous!