Mehring Monday: Hostess Cards

Once & Future Brewers immortalized by Hostess and collected by Mehring. (Mehring)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | November 25, 2012 2:13 PM ET

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The news of the demise of Hostess sent me on a search.

No.  It was NOT a search to buy up the last remaining packages of Twinkies and Ho Ho's. 

It was a search for a certain box in storage.  This box has been with me through many years and several changes of address.  This box has my baseball cards.

My collection is not extensive.  It is not in the best shape.  I collected cards because I wanted them not to treat them as a blue-chip stock to cash in when I was 30 to retire to a small island.

The reason I went looking for this box?  There is a little bit of Hostess history - and a lot of my own - inside this box.

Sunday was spent looking through every bigger box and container that I have in my possession.  I was about to give up and start working on another topic for this week's column.  Then, I found it on a shelf under two pair of rabbit ears antenna.  I may or may not have said, "Eureka!" at that point.

The box is a white shoebox for Avia.  There is small printing from a blue ballpoint pen that reads "Baseball Cards". 

The first thing I saw when I opened the box was a card of former Appleton Fox Bucky Dent.  But, it wasn't a Bucky Dent card from Topps or Fleer or Dunross.  It was a Bucky Dent card from Hostess.

I'm not sure when it started or when it concluded, but from 1975-1979, I couldn't wait to get a box of treats from Hostess because there were three baseball cards on the bottom of the box.

One of the best parts of visiting Grandma Mehring was the knowledge that she would have boxes of these waiting for the grandkids.

You can click on this link to see a post over at Rattler Radio with the Mehring collection of Hostess cards.  If you are a collector, I should warn you that the images are graphic.  In my haste to get them, I did not use a scissors.  Some have writing on it to designate that a player changed teams between seasons.  In short: These cards are not in mint condition. 

(This doesn't bother me...except for the 1977 Mark Fidrych, Thurman Munson, and Carl Yastrzemski cards.  Those break my heart.)

The years are easy to tell apart.  The 1975 cards have that 'photo in a scrapbook' appearance.  The 1976 cards have the patriotic red, white, & blue banners under the photo.  The 1977 card has the rounded bottom of the photo with the player name following the curve.  The 1978 card has the player name, team, and position at the bottom of the card.  The 1979 card has the player name, team, and position at the top of the card.

Also, the 1978 and 1979 cards were smaller than the 1975-1977 cards.

There are some amazing players on the cards that I have.

Hall of Fame players include: Rod Carew from 1975; Hank Aaron, George Brett, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, and Gaylord Perry from 1976; Johnny Bench, Niekro, and Yaz from 1977; and Tony Perez and Bruce Sutter from 1978.

The photo at the top of the column is a collection of players who were, are, or would be Milwaukee Brewers players.  It always freaks me out when I see Jim Slaton in a Tigers uniform.

The Mike Cuellar card from 1976 is awesome.  I can't remember if I ever showed that one to Mike when he was the pitching coach and I was the announcer for the Duluth-Superior Dukes.

Speaking of awesome, Oscar Gamble's hair on his 1978 card is exactly that.

Twinkie the Kid, Captain Cupcake, Fruit Pie the Magician, and Happy Ho Ho will probably be back in some form in the future.  I can only hope that in that future there will be more comic book ads like these* and more baseball cards like the ones that I am fortunate enough to still have.

*-If you're not doing anything today, click this link to see over 200 Hostess ads that ran in comic books when I was a young announcer.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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