What's a Complete Set of Houston Colt .45s Baseball Cards?

(See the Standards Panel who determined the cards in the "Complete Set.")

I want to have a complete set of Houston Colt .45s baseball cards.  That seems to be a simple enough goal.  However, determining what a complete set is turned out to be less simple than expected.  Yes, there were only three seasons for the Colt .45s--1962 , 63, & 64.  So there should be three years of cards, right?  Except in 1965, Topps continued to print cards with players in their Colt .45s caps, including the valuable and significant Joe Morgan rookie card shared by Sonny Jackson. 

Then there are the multiplayer cards.  Dick Farrell was a strikeout leader in 1962, so he shared a card with Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Billy O’Dell.  Is that a Colt .45s card?  Historically, it certainly is a major first-milestone card. 

Rookies present fascinating dilemmas to our definition, not just because they share cards with members of other teams, but because some of them never eventually played for the Colt .45s.  Wally Wolf and Ed Olivares both graced Topps rookies cards, but never cracked a Colt .45s lineup card.  These are clearly collectables, but are they Colt .45s cards? 

Should we argue about Manny Mota and Ellis Burton's Topps Colt .45s single player cards because they never played a regular season game for the Colt .45s?  Right on the edge and likely looking into the set from the outside are the Topps stand-up cards.  Without statistics on their backs and with perforations for punching out the players, these cards flirted with being disqualified, but they were distributed by a legitimate company, at the time of the team’s existence, and in the traditional packs of gum. 

A bit easier to disregard, but not entirely for some collectors, are the later year commemorative cards in sets such as Mother’s Cookies, Texas Forest Service, One-Year Winners, and Jewish Major Leaguers.  Making these enticing is that they include players who deserved Colt .45s Topps cards but never got them, like Pidge Browne, Ernie Fazio, Eddie Kasko, and Ron Brand.  Should we include cards issued for players when they were Astros, or when they were traded to other teams?

A gap still exists for Don Bradey, who never got a card of any type. That is until I produced one for him.

Bringing up the rear of the contenders are the “cards” that had to be thimmed or cut out to be card sized.  I can’t include them in my set because they just didn’t start out as regular cards.  These include the Bazooka, Jell-O, Pepsi Cola, and Post Cereal hand-cut cards.

The contenders having been identified, I began to determine how best to establish the standard for a complete set of Houston Colt .45s baseball cards.  Let’s keep our focus on the set.  We are not interested in anything other than our team—the Colt .45s.  So factors that might have influenced a standard for defining a baseball card for another team in another era for another purpose are simply irrelevant.

I must now reveal that I have some experience in standard setting.  Without digressing too much, I’ll simply say that my doctorate and business revolve around establishing data standards for education agencies (see www.espsolutionsgroup.com. )  Having recently coauthored a white paper on how standards evolve, I determined that the most appropriate methodology to follow for this challenge was to engage a panel of experts.  (See Standards Panel.)

This description of the process, the experts, and resulting standard will be updated as the panel of experts continues its work.  For now, here is the standard definition as it is written.  Using this version, there are 96 cards in the complete collection of Houston Colt .45s baseball cards.

Standard Definition

Traditional Trading and Collectable Baseball Cards of the 1960’s

A card printed and mass distributed, sold commercially, with the expectation that it would be collected by baseball fans and traded among themselves to acquire desired singles or to assemble sets of cards with common characteristics, e.g., teams, seasons, rookies, stars, etc.  Distinctive characteristics of a traditional trading baseball card include:

  • A thick paper stock
  • Dimensions approximately 2.5” by 3.5” in the modern era, but may vary reasonably
  • Player(s) or team picture on the front (obverse) and description or statistics on the reverse (obverse), or blank reverse
  • Issue date concurrent with the time of the player or team being portrayed
  • Distributed by a major company intending to compete in the commercial traditional trading baseball card market for an extended period of time.
  • Recognized and listed in a guide such as Krause's SCD Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards or Beckett’s Almanac

                      Exemplars:      Topps   &    Fleer

 Only cards meeting the criteria within this definition qualify for inclusion in the core set of Houston Colt .45s original baseball cards.   Using this definition, there are 96 cards included in the official inventory and approved by the www.HoustonColt45s.com Standards Panel. 

These cards are classified into these categories.

  1. Topps Standard Single Player Cards
    1. 1962 Season, 25 Cards, Plus 3 Green -Tint Cards
    2. 1963 Season 24 Cards
    3. 1964 Season, 23 Cards
    4. 1965 Season (Colt 45s Caps), 4 Cards*
    5. Topps Multiple Player Cards (Rookies, League Leader , and Team Cards)
      1. 1962 Season Rookies, 1 Card
      2. 1963 Season Rookies, 7 Cards
      3. 1963 Season Strikeout Leaders, 1 Card
      4. 1963 Team, 1 Card
      5. 1964 Season Rookies, 3 Cards
      6. 1965 Season Rookies (Colt 45s Caps), 1 Card
    6. Fleer 1963 Standard Single Player Cards
      1. Colt 45s Players, 3 Cards
      2. Former Colt 45s Player in Colt 45s Uniform, 1 Card*, Not Included

*Including the 1965 cards with players wearing their Colt .45s caps is an interesting decision.  Clearly the photos and statistics are all from their 1964 or earlier Houston baseball seasons. 

Note 1: The card that doesn't fit is the  1963 Fleer Joe Amalfitano, San Francisco Giant, even though he is wearing his Colt .45s uniform. 

Note 2: THe 1963 Topps Stand-Up cards for four players were originally included in the Complete Set.  They have been "Plutoed" from their status because of their two characteristics that make them non-typical of standard trading cards.  First, they have no player or team information on the back.  Second, they are perforated with the intent of beig punched out--and defaced.