1963 Fleer Baseball Cards
Fleer finally threw down the gauntlet in 1963. After trying for four years to get into the gum card market without directly competing with Topps, they released a set of current baseball players. That spring, they released a series of 66 cards, with each of the 20 teams then in existence represented. In a move designed to circumvent Topps' claim of exclusivity with gum and confectionary products, Fleer packs included a cookie that was so low in sugar content it was compared to a dog biscuit.
Predictably, Topps took Fleer to court. They won the case and Fleer stopped their set before a second series could be issued. Fleer was out of the baseball card business, but they still released products related to baseball over the years, such as team stickers, patches, and cards featuring retired legends. Most importantly, they kept challenging Topps' monopoly until 1980, when they were finally allowed to compete with them.
The fronts featured a large player photo. Below that is a yellow-colored diamond with a drawn player inside it. The player's name, team and position appear beside that. In a way, it's not too far off from the design Topps used for its own '63 set (with a second picture in place of the diamond), but the backs could not be more different. In a vertical format, they featured an extensive write-up with stats at the bottom. The card number appears right in the middle, inside a graphic baseball and two bats.
For such a small set, there are several stars included. Eight players are Hall of Famers, but perhaps the most important addition to the set was Maury Wills, who wasn't included in the Topps set as a result of his being snubbed by them as a minor league player. He had been the National League's MVP in 1962 when he set the modern stolen base record, and that award is mentioned right on the front of his card. As the set came out, a checklist card appeared in packs. In order to print it on the printing sheet, Joe Adcock's card was short-printed. As a result, both cards are considered to be short prints.
Key 1963 Fleer Baseball Cards:
1963 Fleer Baseball Card Checklist
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