Card of the Day: 1970 Topps Paul Schaal

This is why I love vintage baseball cards. You can pick up almost any of them and find something interesting. Here we’ve got a common 1970 Topps card of one Paul Schaal, a career .244 hitter who played for two teams, the Angels and Royals. Under most circumstances this piece of cardboard is not one that would not make many people think. Unless of course you’re me, looking for something interesting to write about.

It dawned on me about an hour ago that it’s been more than a week since I’d written about anything older than a decade or so. So after handing out candy to trick or treaters for a few hours, having dinner with the wife and playing a little Guitar Hero, I went digging for inspiration. I found it in the form of this 38-year-old Paul Schaal card.

The centering on the front is bad, and the back is worse.  It comes from the same batch as this Roberto Clemente card. But unlike that Clemente, this card holds little to no value. In fact, had this card not had this cartoon on the back, I would have skipped right over it and never known about what happened to this guy, and how completely inappropriate this card is.

Like you, I laughed too when I saw this cartoon. I mean the guy suffered a fractured skull and it was being highlighted on his baseball card in the form of a cartoon. It was almost surreal. But it was also intriguing. How did Schaal suffer this fractured skull, and why did Topps decide to even mention it in such poor taste.

So like most people searching for answers, I turned to the Internet. It appears that Mr. Schaal at one point was a highly touted prospect third baseman, mainly for his glove. (See stats here) But it also appears, according to Lou Gorman’s book, that Schaal developed a fear of the baseball after suffering a fractured skull IN A BASEBALL GAME on June 13, 1968.

In the book, ironically titled “High and Inside,” Gorman, a former baseball executive, speaks highly of Schaal and tells in a few sentences how Red Sox pitcher Jose Santiago nailed Schaal in the head with a fastball during a contest at Fenway. Schaal was knocked unconscious, and suffered a small fracture on his skull, eye damage and a punctured eardrum. Ouch.

Knowing this, doesn’t that make you wonder what the hell Topps was thinking when it decided to capture that moment with this cartoon? If you look close enough at the above image, you can see the fracture in the skull of the cartoon character. Wonder how Mr. Schaal feels about this.

3 Responses to “Card of the Day: 1970 Topps Paul Schaal”

  1. Fred Frey Says:

    Schaal was my favorite player as a kid, and many of his teammates said he was one of the more underated players in the game. I did not like George Brett when he first came up because he ran number ten out of town. Schaal had a very good season in ’71. Overall, he has a respectable OBP and he made some great plays at third. No one was better at the keystone position fielding bunts. He did struggle with his depth perception after the ’68 beaning, and had occasional trouble with high pop-up. Schaal is now a succesful chiropracter in Olathe, KS.

  2. Thanks for the update, Fred!

  3. […] is getting hit in the head. The illustration makes me laugh, but I’m sure Tony Conigliaro and Paul Shaal wouldn’t find this funny at […]

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