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Dumping 1952 Topps cards in the ocean.

I read with interest the Marshall Fogel thread from 2002 about Alan Rosen's find of 1952 Topps cards that produced a PSA 10 Mantle. Among other things it contains the story that around 1960, Topps ordered that its excess supply of '52 high numbers be dumped into the Atlantic Ocean.

Question: if you are going to dispose of cards, why in the world would you dump them in the Atlantic Ocean? That seems like a lot of extra work to go through simply to dispose of cardboard, when incinerators or shredders would do the trick. I can't imaging renting a boat, loading the cards onto it, then going far enough out into the ocean to dump them. I suppose Topps just paid a cargo ship to dump them on their way out of port, but even so, they could've hired someone just as cheap to burn them.

That part of the story just struck me as very odd, plus it never would've occurred to me that BASEBALL CARD MAKERS would have contributed to the pollution of our waters. Jeesh.


Stay classy,


Ron
Ron Burgundy

Buying Vintage, all sports.
Buying Woody Hayes, Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, and Jesse Owens autographed items

Comments

  • scooter729scooter729 Posts: 1,730 ✭✭✭
    I don't have all the details here, but that story came from Cy Berger, who if I'm not mistaken was a head honcho with Topps back in the 1950s. So if he is saying "we dumped these cards", I don't think he's just making up a story to start an urban legend or something. Sounds like it really happened to me.

    Or am I just being gullible to believe any story???
  • mikeschmidtmikeschmidt Posts: 5,756 ✭✭✭


    << <i>

    That part of the story just struck me as very odd, plus it never would've occurred to me that BASEBALL CARD MAKERS would have contributed to the pollution of our waters. Jeesh.
    >>



    Because burning them wouldn't just cause an equal amount of pollution in the air...?

    At any rate - it was over 50 years ago....
    I am actively buying MIKE SCHMIDT gem mint baseball cards. Also looking for any 19th century cabinets of Philadephia Nationals. Please PM with additional details.
  • jimq112jimq112 Posts: 3,511 ✭✭✭
    I don't think they had shredders back then, or at least not efficient ones. And if you ever tried to burn a few magazines together you can see why they didn't burn them.

    The ecology didn't matter back in the 50s. Companies were burying barrels full of toxic chemicals, gas storage tanks were leaking, there was a paper mill near me that dumped hazardous chemical waste into lake erie every day.

    dumping them in the pond was probably the cheapest way to get rid of them for good. Even if somebody went and got them, they're junk.

    They were dumping 1972 football high series also, because it came out so late and nobody wanted it. Larry fritsch stepped in and IIRC he bought what was left more or less for what it was costing topps to ship it.

    Keep in mind if everybody had done the right thing and kept their cards nice, there's no need for grading.
    image
  • RonBurgundyRonBurgundy Posts: 5,491 ✭✭✭
    "Because burning them wouldn't just cause an equal amount of pollution in the air...?

    At any rate - it was over 50 years ago.... "


    Well sure, but cardboard and paper is shredded every day and sometimes burned. It's just so odd to me that a bubble gum manufacturer would dump something in the ocean.
    Ron Burgundy

    Buying Vintage, all sports.
    Buying Woody Hayes, Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, and Jesse Owens autographed items
  • mikeschmidtmikeschmidt Posts: 5,756 ✭✭✭


    << <i>
    Well sure, but cardboard and paper is shredded every day and sometimes burned. It's just so odd to me that a bubble gum manufacturer would dump something in the ocean. >>



    I agree that it was probably a simple economic decision at the time. They had excess inventory. It wouldn't burn easily [would need to be separated, etc.], not to mention that Topps likely did not have capacity to burn stuff. So they probably just contracted to get rid of the cards in whatever the cheapest possible way was - which happened to be an ocean dump.
    I am actively buying MIKE SCHMIDT gem mint baseball cards. Also looking for any 19th century cabinets of Philadephia Nationals. Please PM with additional details.
  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,428 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This story in my opinion has always been silly. Topps is a small printing operation compared to a number of other printers, especially back then - they would have disposed of their "trash" in the same manner as any other paper company, or any company would have. Of course barges were used to dump lots of trash into the ocean back then, and I believe still are, and so this story is simply a hyperbole.

    If really wanting to have "fun" with the story tell someone gullible that recently you were walking along the beach and found one of those 1952 Topps cards that washed up on shore - LOL
  • bishopbishop Posts: 2,917 ✭✭✭
    I heard Cy's mother loaded them on the barge herself to make room in his closet at home.
    Topps Baseball-1948, 1951 to 2017
    Bowman Baseball -1948-1955
    Fleer Baseball-1923, 1959-2007

    Al
  • The version I've heard was Cy Berger had to dispose of the cards--he couldn't throw them out on the curb due to NY laws about printing companies disposing of printed materials (I believe the laws are still in effect as the book publishing companies in NY cannot throw out any books just lying around their office--they have to find other means to dispose of them i.e. give them away somehow). So with this task as his own, he took his private boat out into the Atlantic and tossed them out.
    Next MONTH? So he's saying that if he wins, the best-case scenario is that he'll be paying for it two weeks after the auction ends?

    Forget blocking him; find out where he lives and go punch him in the nuts. --WalterSobchak 9/12/12



    image


    Looking for Al Hrabosky and any OPC Dave Campbells (the ESPN guy)
  • RipublicaninMassRipublicaninMass Posts: 10,051 ✭✭✭


    << <i>This story in my opinion has always been silly. Topps is a small printing operation compared to a number of other printers, especially back then - they would have disposed of their "trash" in the same manner as any other paper company, or any company would have. Of course barges were used to dump lots of trash into the ocean back then, and I believe still are, and so this story is simply a hyperbole.

    If really wanting to have "fun" with the story tell someone gullible that recently you were walking along the beach and found one of those 1952 Topps cards that washed up on shore - LOL >>



    Don't give anybody ANY MORE ideas for ebay PLEASE
  • AllenAllen Posts: 7,165 ✭✭✭
    Can I get a link to that thread?
  • Sy Berger in an SCD interview with TS O'Connell, said he dumped 300-500 cases in the ocean, a few miles off Atlantic Highlands, to make room in the warehouse.

  • Mickey71Mickey71 Posts: 4,224 ✭✭✭✭

    @maras said:
    Sy Berger in an SCD interview with TS O'Connell, said he dumped 300-500 cases in the ocean, a few miles off Atlantic Highlands, to make room in the warehouse.

    I've never thought the story was true; but Elvis is alive too.

  • HarnessracingHarnessracing Posts: 276 ✭✭✭
    edited October 12, 2023 8:29PM

    The story is they went out on the garbage barges in Staten Island with the rest of NYC trash, it’s true

  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 6,200 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 13, 2023 4:58AM

    I grew up in the area where the story took place around the time period the famous black and white photo of the Topps store in Brooklyn was taken, my parents were living in the neighborhood and the distance was maybe two blocks.

    In NYC up until about 1990*, illegal dumping was incredibly common. Honestly, Billy Joel’s line ‘hypodermics on the shore’ was a direct timely reference to that happening with persistence on Staten Island.

    I don’t know if the story is true (rumors suggest they also were just backdoored to Berger’s side hustle) but Topps at the time was located on the water in Brooklyn near the old Bush Terminals; the front of the terminal had street access and the backs had dock access; boats could come and go pretty freely back then, too. So any boat can pull up, pick up and pull out with very little questions back then.

    But back then - and today - residents of the five boroughs of NYC get free trash removal but business pay for carting (trash removal) and USUALLY by the pound. And back then (and still today, depending on whom you believe), the business was mafia run. From the 1950’s-1980’s, they had their hands in just about every essential business in NYC and ruled through fear and intimidation.

    So, the idea you’d want to sneak your trash out in the middle of the night and dump it in the ocean yourself to save money (and also avoid dealing with the mob and trying to make sure you didn’t get caught avoiding them) really isn’t all that far fetched.

    *So many statutes, regulations and laws were passed to fix this problem. Now, more than thirty years later, the water is noticeably much cleaner, fish and plant populations have returned and illegal dumping is much less of an issue.

    Curious about the rare, mysterious and beautiful 1951 Wheaties Premium Photos?

    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/987963/1951-wheaties-premium-photos-set-registry#latest

  • HarnessracingHarnessracing Posts: 276 ✭✭✭

    Then we lived in the same neighborhood

  • mark_dakmark_dak Posts: 1,054 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Who said they needed a '52 Mantle?

    Mark

  • ApplejacksApplejacks Posts: 384 ✭✭✭

    @1951WheatiesPremium said:
    I grew up in the area where the story took place around the time period the famous black and white photo of the Topps store in Brooklyn was taken, my parents were living in the neighborhood and the distance was maybe two blocks.

    In NYC up until about 1990*, illegal dumping was incredibly common. Honestly, Billy Joel’s line ‘hypodermics on the shore’ was a direct timely reference to that happening with persistence on Staten Island.

    I don’t know if the story is true (rumors suggest they also were just backdoored to Berger’s side hustle) but Topps at the time was located on the water in Brooklyn near the old Bush Terminals; the front of the terminal had street access and the backs had dock access; boats could come and go pretty freely back then, too. So any boat can pull up, pick up and pull out with very little questions back then.

    But back then - and today - residents of the five boroughs of NYC get free trash removal but business pay for carting (trash removal) and USUALLY by the pound. And back then (and still today, depending on whom you believe), the business was mafia run. From the 1950’s-1980’s, they had their hands in just about every essential business in NYC and ruled through fear and intimidation.

    So, the idea you’d want to sneak your trash out in the middle of the night and dump it in the ocean yourself to save money (and also avoid dealing with the mob and trying to make sure you didn’t get caught avoiding them) really isn’t all that far fetched.

    *So many statutes, regulations and laws were passed to fix this problem. Now, more than thirty years later, the water is noticeably much cleaner, fish and plant populations have returned and illegal dumping is much less of an issue.

    Neat. Thanks for sharing.

  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 6,200 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Harnessracing said:
    Then we lived in the same neighborhood

    Ever had a fresh pint at Farrell’s?

    😉

    Curious about the rare, mysterious and beautiful 1951 Wheaties Premium Photos?

    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/987963/1951-wheaties-premium-photos-set-registry#latest

  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,428 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I say we all chip in together to fund an underwater expedition to find these lost cards. Sort of in the same way they do in trying to find sunken gold treasure.

    I'm thinking maybe the wax packs protected the cards from the salt water for all these years. Just wash off the mud, and you've got pristine wax packs filled with potential PSA 9's or 10's.

    One stipulation - I get 10% extra for coming up with the idea.

    😉😎

  • BaltimoreYankeeBaltimoreYankee Posts: 2,885 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @1951WheatiesPremium said:

    @Harnessracing said:
    Then we lived in the same neighborhood

    Ever had a fresh pint at Farrell’s?

    😉

    Farrell's is still there. No more crowds of people drinking from the containers outside the bar any more though.

    Daniel
  • We left during the exodus to NJ in the late 60’s early 70’s. I was from Sunset Park

  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 4,670 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 15, 2023 6:40AM

    @Harnessracing said:
    We left during the exodus to NJ in the late 60’s early 70’s. I was from Sunset Park

    Bay Ridge 👋

    My mom was a teacher at PS 140 in Sunset Park.

  • HarnessracingHarnessracing Posts: 276 ✭✭✭

    We literally lived across the street from the Topps plant

  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 4,670 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Harnessracing said:
    We literally lived across the street from the Topps plant

    It was on 36th Street right?

  • 82FootballWaxMemorys82FootballWaxMemorys Posts: 1,256 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 15, 2023 6:45AM

    Back then just like with comics and newspapers they could have been pulped. Why go to expense of dumping them when pulping would bring in a few bucks in comparison...

    Unless otherwise specified my posts represent only my opinion, not fact.

  • HarnessracingHarnessracing Posts: 276 ✭✭✭

    We were on 41st between 1st and 2nd

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