Topps 1964 Baseball Card Set - The Times They Are a-Changin'
August 9, 2011
by William Szczepanek
The 1964 Topps Baseball Card Set was big and bold. A color picture adorned the middle of the card, an oversized name of the team in different colors for each card was at the top with the player's name and position at the bottom. I never really cared for the large team name at the top. It seemed like the cards promoted the teams more than the players, but it was a new style that was clean and attractive.
The first 12 cards were category leaders for 1963 in each league for ERA, Pitching, Strikeouts, Batting, Home Runs and RBIs. Rookie stars were scattered throughout the set with 2 rookies per card and pictures that looked quite good compared to previous rookie cards.
Special cards included Angel backstops - #061, All Star vets, Fox and Killebrew - #081, Hitting Area - Sisler and Pinson - #162, Young Aces, Downing and Bouton - #219, Bill's got it, Murtaugh and Virdon - #268, Giant Gunners, Mays and Cepeda - #331, Al Bombers, Maris, Cash, Mantle and Kaline -#393, Casey teaches, Stengel and Kranepool - #423, and Tops in NL, Aaron and Mays - #423. World Series Cards commemorating the 1963 series - #136-140.
Memorable Events in Baseball 1964
Mention the name Lou Brock to a Cubs fan old enough to remember him and you make them sick to their stomach. It was April 29, 1964 and I was off from school on Spring Break (called clean-up week) in Chicago. I was 16 years old and determined to go to a baseball game, but the weather was not cooperating. It was a dark a stormy night (actually a rainy and chilly day). The Giants were in Chicago to play the Cubs; Juan Marichal vs. Dick Ellsworth. The Cubs were already at a disadvantage. The attendance was to be 2,747 as I settled into my first-row grandstand seat just behind the box seats, which I acquired for 75 cents on a first-come-first-served basis. The Giants won 4-0. Willie Mays went 3 for 5 as did Jesus Alou. It was a very gloomy day that I thought was very forgettable. As the game ended, for some unknown reason I continued to sit in my seat and watched the players leave the field. I watched Lou Brock take his position in right field and chase fly balls. He had trouble in the wind, often running in too far and having to recover. I left the park wondering. A few weeks later Brock was traded to the Cardinals. He would finish the season with the Cards hitting .348 for them and played in the World Series.
The Fall of the Phillies
A friend of mine who lived next door was a Philadelphia Phillies fan because his name was Phil. He suffered through some gruesome years as a Phillies fan, but this year he let everyone know that his team was the team of destiny. He just didn't understand what that would mean.
On September 21st the Phillies had a 6.5 game lead with 12 games to play. On this day they would lose 1-0 to the Reds on a steal of home by Chico Ruiz. They would lose 10 in a row, many in the late innings after blowing leads and losing the last 3 of these games to the Cardinals who would hold on to the league lead. The Phillies would win the last 2 meaningless games of the season and end up 1 game out of first, completing the biggest collapse of any team ever. To watch Phil suffer was at times a delight.
On September 20th the White Sox were 2.0 games behind the Yankees. The White Sox won 10 out 11 of their last games, but could not catch the Yanks as the White Sox finished 1 game behind the perennial pennant winning Yankees.
World Series 1964
The St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in 7 games with Bob Gibson the MVP for winning 2 games. Mickey Mantle hit 3 home runs to extend his lead to 18 home runs in WS competition. This was the end of the line for the Yankees. They would finish last by 1966 and not return to the Series until 1976. It marked the end of the Yankee Dynasty.
Yogi Berra would be fired as Yankee manager and be replaced by the Cardinals Johnny Keane.
Runs Scored: Dick Allen, Philadelphia Phillies, NL 124; Tony Oliva Minnesota Twins, AL 109.
Doubles: Lee Maye, Milwaukee Braves, NL 44; Tony Oliva Minnesota Twins, AL 43.
Triples: Ron Santo, Chicago Cubs and Dick Allen, Philadelphia Phillies, NL 13, Rich Rollins, Minnesota Twins, AL 10.
Home Runs: Harmon Killebrew, Minnesota Twins, AL 49; Willie Mays, SF Giants, NL 48.
Rookie of the Year: Dick Allen, Philadelphia Phillies, NL; Tony Oliva Minnesota Twins, AL.
AL MVP went to Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles: NL MVP Ken
Boyer, St. Louis Cardinals
Tops Songs of 1964
Music was largely for kids with the Beatles battling the Beach Boys for the newest in sound. The older folks held a few spots with Louis Armstrong and Dean Martin, but music was changing fast and young people got to listen to a wide variety of music in the Top 40. Shows like Shindig brought the new rock stars to the TV screen.
The songs positions changed weekly on the charts and with an enormous amount of new material hitting the airwaves, the young took a stranglehold on the music industry and would never let go, and I mean never. Songs from the 60s are still considered some of the best and still sound great to people of all ages.
I Want to Hold Your Hand, The Beatles
Again, Dylan's lyrics could be meaningful:
Come mothers and fathers
Top Movies of 1964
Movies in 1964 were still tame by today's standards, providing a wide variation of themes and stars. James Bond and Elvis pictures were popular with the women as well as the men. Sean Connery and Elvis had the best jobs in the world.
Top TV Shows of 1964
The Cowboys were still hanging in there with Bonanza leading the way, but crazy, light-hearted comedy still prevailed. With a twitch of her nose, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), the most beautiful witch in the world, would not allow us to change the channel.
The World in 1964
As Bob Dylan released "The Times They Are a-Changin" we can look back as see why. Civil Rights legislation that was initiated by John F. Kennedy in 1963 which outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation, was now in place for Lyndon Johnson to sign. Passage of the bill required great compromise on the part of both parties. Dylan's lyrics summed it up well and could be meaningful today.
Come senators, congressmen
Arguments went on for months, a 75-day filibuster ensued, but in the end the government did what was right for the people. Johnson knew that supporting this bill would risk losing the South's overwhelming support of the Democratic Party and possibly his chance for re-election. In fact, after passage Johnson won the election in a landslide but the democrats did lose the South for decades. The vote was not, however, divided between parties as much as it was divided between the Northern States and Southern States, between interests of the country vs. interests among individuals or parties. It was a time when government worked.
Passage of the bill did not stop the violence or radically solve the problems, as discrimination and segregation issues were pushed into the American way of life. But, these were positive though controversial steps. It is a shame to see how far backward we have travelled over the last couple of decades as equality of nationalities outweigh the equality of men and women, and discrimination among all people is more widespread than ever.
Shinkansen vs. Morning Hiawatha
The world's first high speed rail network opened in Japan in time for the Olympics. The Shinkansen, also known as Bullet trains carried passengers at speeds of 130mph. Today Japanese trains reach speeds of up to 190 mph. We can look back at the 1930s and see trains like the Morning Hiawatha that travelled at 100mph through the Midwest. Now, there is one high speed train in the U.S that runs between Boston and Washington.
In the 1990s the trains in China averaged 37 mph. Now China can boast of the largest high speed rail service in the world which is scheduled to triple in size shortly. The U.S. is now far behind Asia and Europe in high speed rail systems. But, maybe that is our grand plan ─ lack of innovation and progress. What is the purpose of travelling to major cities if meetings can now be attended easily and less expensively across the Web. Maybe China's new rail system will go largely unused. Maybe large cities are a thing of the past. Maybe the U.S. is actually going in the right direction by not investing in high speed rail.
Viet Nam War
The war in Viet Nam was escalating. North Viet Nam torpedo boats allegedly attack U.S. Destroyers. The incidents were never confirmed. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed to give the President the authority for swift measures to repel attacks against U.S. forces. The resolution was repealed in 1970. More U.S. men were being drafted to fight on the other side of the world. My mother told me that I better learn how to make my bed properly, because I'll need to know how when I'm in the military. I didn't think she was serious. I never thought she would be right.
War on Poverty
President Johnson also waged a War On Poverty. The poverty level was at 19% at the time, but was declining. The bill led to welfare programs that would become controversial in their nature and inconclusive in their results. Many still disagree with the philosophy. In many respects there are no clear cut solutions. During good economic times, a large majority of people do well and there is money to help those less fortunate. During bad times, many people of all types and backgrounds need help, but funds are not available to help.
Back in 1964 there were many heroes - the astronauts, Viet Nam Veterans, political leaders with courage, corporate leaders who valued their workers, workers who trusted their employers and everyday people who were allowed to use their talents to improve the nation. Today, we have our service men and women, but the real heroes of today are the middle-class American people who are strong enough to bail out two car companies, Wall Street and the biggest banks in the country, that were mismanaged by executives who continue to be rewarded. But these middle-class Americans are not powerful enough and influential enough to get Congress to do what's necessary to preserve their wealth. I have not heard a single "thank you" yet from the bank or car executives. In fact, the American people got the back of their hand from the bankers who just proceeded to gouge people more.
Fast Forward to Today
The current focus of the government needs to be to create an environment for job growth for all levels of educated people and also to prevent the loss of jobs at all levels, since corporations can no longer, or no longer wish to do so.. The current government is more concerned about the health of large corporations that send more jobs to other countries than they create here. There is a lack of understanding of what it takes to be great. At some point these corporations will lose their most important asset ─ the American worker, who not only created the demand for their products, but fulfills the demand by buying their products. The arguments that both sides of Congress base their decisions upon are no longer valid. The global economy does not work like the economies of the past. Both sides continue to do more harm than good. Compromise is what we settle for in order to avert disaster. What we need are some new ideas, new ways of thinking and new solutions.
I hear that we will soon be importing CEOs from India and other nations with better educated citizens. I'm sure they will do what's best for our country. They have for their own.
And from Dylan Again:
The line it is drawn