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1974 Laughlin Old-Time Black Stars: progress on upgrading to Finest Possible set (UPDATED)

paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
Updated: see my last post (8/27/2017)...

There was some interest in this odd-ball set when I posted images from my Nationals' submission a few weeks ago (particularly from ajw) so I thought I'd share what I know about these cards with the board. First of all, to give credit where it's due: much of this info comes from Brian Hodes, the proud owner of the #1 all-time and current-finest set.

In 1974, when R.G. Laughlin produced this obscure set as an homage to the largely unknown and still unappreciated stars of the Negro Leagues, only four (Paige, Gibson, Leonard & Bell) of the 36 players featured had been enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame. But Laughlin's choice of players was remarkably prescient -- over the next 32 years 18 more of these ballplayers received the call to Cooperstown. In all, 22 of the 36 cards in this set depict HOFers. It can be reasonably argued that for at least 9 of these stars, their '74 Laughlin card is their true RC since they had no other baseball cards produced of them before this set! (See Old Cardboard's HOF Rookie Cards page). Below are scans of all 22 Laughlin HOFers, listed by induction year and "Rookie Card" notation, if appropriate. Enjoy!

Satchel Paige (HOF 1971) & Josh Gibson (HOF 1972)

Buck Leonard (HOF 1972; Rookie Card) & Cool Papa Bell (HOF 1974)

Judy Johnson (HOF 1975; Rookie Card) & Oscar Charleston (HOF 1976)

Martin Dihigo (HOF 1977) & John Henry "Pop" Lloyd (HOF 1977)

Ray Dandridge (HOF 1987) & Andrew "Rube" Foster (HOF 1996; Rookie Card)

Bill Foster (HOF 1996) & Willie Wells (HOF 1997; Rookie Card)

Wilbur "Bullet" Rogan (HOF 1998; Rookie Card) & "Smoky Joe" Williams (HOF 1999; Rookie Card)

Frank Grant (HOF 2006; Rookie Card) & Pete Hill (HOF 2006)

Biz Mackey (HOF 2006) & Jose "Joe" Mendez (HOF 2006)

Louis Santop (HOF 2006; Rookie Card) & George "Mule" Suttles (HOF 2006; Rookie Card)

Cristobal Torriente (HOF 2006) & Jud Wilson (HOF 2006)


  • cpettimdcpettimd Posts: 1,050 ✭✭✭
    here is a pre stroke auto of "cool papa"on one of these
    Collecting Clemente master (#6) and basic PSA registry sets, Hank Aaron master and basic sets, Mantle oddball issues, 1970's mega decade HOFs, 1967 Topps pin ups, and high grade Topps Clemente and Aaron. Numerous transactions with over 100 board members.
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    Very cool auto, thanks for posting cpettimd!
  • Paleo,
    Nice meeting you that afternoon at the Hilton, I was the one with my Son there, had an enjoyable time looking at all your recent pickups. And thanks for sharing those Laughlin cards, they are Cool.
    Have a Great day!
    See ya in Chicago...........................My Son had such a great time, he wants to go back already!!!!

    Actually Collect Non Sport, but am just so full of myself I post all over the place !!!!!!!
  • Whomever had the foresight to get these cards signed by the lesser known players AT THE TIME i.e. Willie Foster, Willie Wells, Turkey Stearns, etc. is sitting on something rare and nice. I didn't get into collecting the Negro Leagues until like 1993 or so ... I always wondered how some people started writing to the Negro League players TTM in the 70's with the paucity of information available.
  • digicatdigicat Posts: 8,551 ✭✭
    Very cool! About how much does a raw set of these cards (raw, nm) run for?

    Is there anything on the backs?
    My Giants collection want list

    WTB: 2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars Longevity: Ryan Jensen #/25
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    Neil -- It was a pleasure meeting you and your son in Baltimore, thanks for the kind words.

    Rich -- I won my raw set from Steve Hart (bbcexhange) via eBay auction for $106.39 (against 10 other bidders) back in April. I was very happy with the quality of the cards. So far I've graded 15 of the HOFers: 1 PSA 5 (Judy Johnson, the last card in the set with predictable rubber-band damage), 3 PSA 6's (including Smoky Joe Williams, the #1 card also with rubber-band damage), 2 PSA 7s, 4 PSA 8s, 2 PSA 8.5s (both Pop 1s with none higher), 2 PSA 9s (both Pop 1s with none higher), and 1 PSA 10 (the first 10 graded from this set -- 247 cards total population). There's a raw set closing on eBay tonight (not mine, and the quality appears pretty poor). Here's what the back's look like:

  • ajwajw Posts: 2,278 ✭✭✭
    What a great set! Thanks so much for sharing your scans and knowledge...
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    Just had three more graded from the raw set I bought from Baseball Card Exchange. Really fast turn-around from PSA on these freebies, very much appreciated. Pleased with the grades overall, although I thought the Leonard would be at least an 8.5 with a good shot at 9.


  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    Sorry for the spam, but I figure if you're interested in reading about these cards, you may also be interested in picking some up for your collection. I'm breaking-up my second PSA-graded set, currently ranked 4th with a GPA of 7.72. All 36 cards are being individually auctioned on eBay by PWCC, ending this coming Thursday (April 3rd) between 9:48-10:06pm EDT. Here's a link to the auction closing first: card #1, Hall of Fame pitcher Smoky Joe Williams.

    Thanks, and if you have any questions please respond to the thread or PM me.

    Good luck if you decide to bid!

  • ajwajw Posts: 2,278 ✭✭✭
    I still love the set. Why are you breaking it up?
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    I still have the #1 set intact; this is the second PSA-graded complete set I've built. Time to sell it!
  • These are extremely cool cards! I'd never seem any of them before. The Cool Papa auto blew my mind!
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    Checking the pop report after the National, I was blown away to discover that these five have recently been added to the population:

    #15 Satchel Paige (HOF) PSA 9 (Pop 1, none higher)
    #16 Louis Santop (HOF) PSA 10 (Pop 1, 3rd "10" ever graded from this set)
    #19 Bullet Rogan (HOF) PSA 10 (Pop 1, 4th "10" ever graded from this set)
    #31 Bill Monroe PSA 9 (Pop 2, none higher)
    #34 Oscar Charleston (HOF) PSA 9 (Pop 2, none higher)

    If anyone has these or knows who does, I am VERY interested in obtaining these cards via purchase, trade or a combination. Please PM me .

  • I know I've already said this, but I love this set and your thread.
  • These cards offend me, especially the Biz Markie card

  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 25, 2017 11:42AM
    As mentioned above, I noticed that the population of PSA 10s had doubled for this set after the National. I had sub'd the first two Gems and they're still monstrously tough for a 40-year-old issue with only 4/705 = 0.57% Gem Mint 10s in the total population.

    I am thrilled to report that I was able to track them down and procure both for my collection. I now own all four 10s from the '74 set and the two from the '78.

    Of these two new 10s, I'm particularly stoked about the Rogan which has been one of the set's tougher cards. Until this 10 popped, the highest-graded was one PSA 8.5 (no 9s).

    Enjoy their pristine beauty!

  • Congrats, those are sweet!! Did you track down the Paige PSA 9 or the other low pop 9's?
  • TabeTabe Posts: 5,661 ✭✭✭✭✭
    How were these issued to the public?
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    From Marty ("Laughlinfan" on Net54):

    "All of Bob [Laughlin]'s independently sold (i.e., non-Fleer issued) sets were not sold in packages (OK, except maybe the 1980 Famous Feats set) but were sold as complete sets through Bob (mail order or at shows) or through a dealer he supplied with sets. He sold the sets for roughly $3 a set.

    Bob did these as a labor of love, I think, and I doubt he ever made a ton of money on any of his independent sets. For most of his sets, he did a print run of 500 sets, which would allow him to recoup all of his costs for production. If he sold enough, he would do a second run (again of about 500) which would provide any profits from a set. As of 1976 (two years after the 74 set), the most sets he had ever produced of any of his sets was 1500. My guess is that 1500 number was for either his Great Feats set (from 72 with a great selection of popular players) or the Old Time Black Stars - those two seemed to be the most popular of his independent sets. The Long Ago set from '78 again seemed to be a lot less popular at the time, again I think because the player selection (and maybe the card design itself) was much less attractive. I would be very surprised if he did a second run of the 78 set, which is why I pegged the number of those sets at maybe 500. And since you guys are looking for the sets/cards to some extent, I am sure you would agree that the 78 set seems to come up even less often than a 1500 to 500 ratio would suggest. Bob may not have sold all that he printed of the 78 set, or maybe he eventually printed another run or two of the 74 sets (sometime after 1976)."
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 25, 2017 11:44AM
    I was able to procure the three other upgrades to my set and I now am tantalizingly close to my ultimate goal for the 1974 Laughlins: to own the highest-graded example of each card. With these three "9's" below (the Paige is a Pop 1, the others are Pop 2's) I now have the highest PSA-graded specimen for 31 of the 36 cards in the set.

  • Very cool, congrats!!
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 25, 2017 11:39AM
    I recently was able to upgrade #10 Pete Hill to a PSA 9, so I now have an example of the highest-graded card for 32 out of the 36 in the set. Twelve of these 32 are Pop 1's.

    However, I just noticed that the 5th PSA 10 from this set had recently been graded (it's the second PSA 10 of #16 Louis Santop), so now I only own 4 of the 5 PSA 10's (the total population is 832 PSA-graded Laughlins, so 10's are still very rare: only 0.6%!)

  • LarkinCollectorLarkinCollector Posts: 8,975 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Congrats on the upgrade and good luck in the Set Registry Awards/Digital Album!
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks LarkinCollector!

    For those of you that might be interested, 4SC just posted a ton of freshly-graded '74 Laughlins on eBay, including some that are the highest-graded. No bargains, but I think the listed prices are mostly fair and around what I'd estimate as market-value.

    The newest-graded PSA 10 is one of them - you can have the second Gem Mint Louis Santop for "only" $599!

    (By the way, none of those cards 4SC is selling are mine.)
  • yankeesmanyankeesman Posts: 909 ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for the heads up on the 4 SC Laughlins. I've been looking for a Josh Gibson and going on their website with the 12% discount I could justify the PSA 7 they had. Will fit nicely into my HOF catchers card collection. Thanks again!
    Don Mattingly, Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson, Brian McCann and Topps Rookie Cup autograph collector
  • paleocardspaleocards Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭

    As of today, I'm very pleased to report that I've been able to upgrade my set to the current Finest Possible GPA and Set Rating. I now own a highest-graded example of all 36 cards in the set, with one-third (12) of them Pop 1's. Many thanks to Brian Hodes, aka BKH, for agreeing to trade me the only three cards on the planet that could allow me to complete this goal. Here are the three 9's (all Pop 1's) that I acquired:

  • If anyone is interested, I have a 1974 Laughlin OTBS set currently on eBay. This is the #5 rated PSA set with a 7.94 rating. Also willing to break the set. Open to trade or offers on singles, as I am looking to upgrade my other '74 set and complete my '78 Laughlin set. Thanks.

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