Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1988 Little Sun Legends of the Minor Leagues - BIG Card Show Find

Last time, I showed off some of my vintage pick-ups from last weekend’s Milwaukee card show. Today, let’s look at the oddballs I found. These are some very odd balls indeed.

I love these Topps glossy cards. The all-stars, the rookies, the send-in sets. There is something reassuring about them. I got this 1986 set for a dollar. I think I might send this Boggs off to get it signed. Boggs is a very good TTM signer, charging five bucks a sig.

I also snagged this from the same seller. It was a small set, just twelve cards, from some maker I had never heard of. But for a dollar, what the hell? The set was produced by Little Sun, a company based in Monrovia, CA. According to this brief history of the company, they released a number of sets between 1988 and 1992. I didn’t think much of it when I picked up and didn’t expect much based on the weird cover card. But when I got it home and opened it up, I was quite literally stunned by what I found.

Holy shit! That is a great-looking card! Each card was illustrated by artist Michael Guccione and it very reminiscent of the iconic 1935 National Chicle football set. This is Luke Easter, who clubbed 269 homers in the minors.

Here is Frank Shellenback, who was a master of the spitball with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League.

Jigger Statz had over 4,000 professional hits, with more 3,300 coming in the minors. Overall, he played in nearly 3,500 professional baseball games.

Meet Joe Hauser, a Milwaukee native who was the first professional hitter to ever belt more than 60 homers in multiple seasons. He topped out at 69 in 1933 for the Minneapolis Millers. He later retired to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, nearby to where I grew up.

Smead Jolley won six minor league batting titles, including marks of .397 and .404 for the San Francisco Seals.

Steve Bilko was six-foot-one and weighed as much as 265 pounds. One sportswriter said he resembled a “gigantic white eggplant.” In 1956, he smacked 55 homes and batted .360 for the PCL LA Angels.

This is instantly my favorite card of Pete Gray, who made history with the St. Louis Browns in 1945 by being the first MLB player who was missed a limb. He had limited success in the majors, but hit .380 with the Trois-Rivieres Renards of the Canadian-American League in 1942. He's shown here with the Memphis Chicks, where he batted .333 in 1944.

Lou Novikoff was a PCL MVP with Los Angeles. He saw action in a few seasons with the Cubs but loved to eat and drink and hated to meet curfew. He was a notoriously bad fielder and – per the bio on the back of the card – had a terrible fear of the ivy on the walls at Wrigley Field.

Ike Boone batted .370 during his 14-year minor league career and in 1929 hit .407 with 55 homers for Mission, His mark of 553 total bases that year set an all-time record (he played 198 games that season).

And then there’s Fidel Castro. Yes, THAT Fidel Castro. A very odd addition to the set, considering this “legend” of the minor league never played in the minor leagues, although was known as a huge fan of the game who played in his younger days. This set actually isn’t even listed in the Trading Card Database, but if it were, this would mark the only baseball card of Castro, who has appeared in a handful of non-sports sets. 

And here is an example of the set's backside, which includes a very nice biographical write-up. 

Anyway, those were my oddball adventures at the show. Next up, JUNK WAX!


  1. Good stuff. Little Sun also put out a set of famous baseball writers, which is one of my favorites. I posted about it once.

  2. These. Are. Awesome. Never heard of this set before, and while the Castro has quirk value, the Gray is my far and away favorite. Little Sun also put out a Black Sox set I picked up at a show earlier this year.