1976 SSPC Baseball
By Patrick Mondout
The 19761 SSPC (Sports Stars Publishing
Company) set of 630 cards was produced by card dealer Mike Aronstein and
was received by the hobby as an attractive alternative to the busy and
often loud Topps sets. In fact, he told Baseball Cards magazine in
1988, "I used the 1953 Bowman set as a model. I had always liked the
simplicity of that set and the fact that what you got on each card was a
picture of a baseball player, period. Nothing fancy. Just a card."
They were distributed as complete sets for $13.99 postpaid, as a Hank
Aaron SSPC promo card from early 1976 stated. You could also order your
favorite team for $1.50 postpaid.
Unfortunately, Aronstein quickly received a court order (courtesy of
Topps) demanding he stop distributing cards featuring active major
leaguers. He continued producing sets featuring minor leaguers and retired
players under the moniker TCMA (the letters were the initials of Aronstein
and his partner, Tom Collier). The court order also prevented SSPC from
reprinting the set - a common practice among such "collector's
sets" - which has helped this set gain a slight feel of legitimacy
few such sets ever achieve. That said, it interesting that so many lots of
big stars and complete mint sets have appeared on eBay in recent years.
The set is anything but scarce.
The set may not be as colorful or flashy as the Topps issues of the day
(a selling point to SSPC - they called their uncluttered design the
"Pure Card"), but the close-up, non-action photography is quite
attractive although almost all the photos were taken in New York.
The set must have been a labor of love for Aronstein. Who among serious
baseball card collectors hasn't dreamed of producing their own large set?
The text on the backs of the cards (there were no year-by-year stats - a
major letdown to many collectors) was edited by future sportscaster and
blogger Keith Olbermann.
Despite the undeniable beauty of the set and the fact that shipments
were halted, it has sold for under $30 in mint condition as late as May of
2005 on eBay and gem mint 10's of stars often sell for less than the price
of grading them! Anyone who quotes you $30 or $50 "book value"
for any card in this set is assuming you are an idiot. But if you
are looking for an attractive and affordable set of baseball cards from
the Super70s, look no further. Just don't consider it an investment.
Errors: Card #212 Ed Bane actually shows Mike Pazik and there are two
pairs of cards were the photographs are transposed: #248 Rick Austin
actually Larry Anderson; #249 Larry Anderson is actually Rick Austin and
#522 Duane Kuiper is actually Rick Manning; #529 Rick Manning is actually
Duane Kuiper. Lastly, #593 (Checklist #5) can be found either with Nolan
Ryan's first name spelled Noland or correctly.
A checklist is here.
1 Despite the 1975 copyright on the back, these cards were printed after
the '75 season and introduced in early 1976.