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  #1  
Old 01-26-2019, 09:46 PM
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Default It Had to Be Lou...1977 Burger King #23 Lou Piniella

For those of us growing up in the New York area, 1977 was a huge year for baseball as Chris Chambliss sent 'The Bombers' to the Series the previous fall after a long absence. And, are you kidding me, now they added Reg-gie to that great squad????!!!!! When Burger King told us we could get free Yankees cards with every meal, it was a kid's dream...even for us Mets fans. They handed you a couple every time you sat down to wolf down a Whopper, and you didn't keep them separate from the thousands of 1977 Topps cards you were already amassing. Nope, you just added them to your Yankees section (we all assembled our cards by team, not by number) and the beautiful thing was there was now an actual card of Reggie Jackson wearing pinstripes that replaced the horrible airbrushed headshot of the regular Topps card. Awesome!! There were slight cropping differences and whatnot (Thurman Munson with no all star stripe) in some of the cards, and other player(s) were pictured for the first time as Yankees (as opposed to their Topps card counterparts), but the only real difference was the numbers on back. For our purposes, the phantom Lou Piniella card was number 23, not the #96 of the Topps set, even though it looked exactly the same on front. But, just like almost everyone else on the planet, my family, friends and I never got a Lou Piniella in a actual Burger King pack inside a a restaurant and never even knew they even existed until many years later. Some locations actually issued them, though, as a couple of members here have said that is where they got theirs, in a Burger King pack. So, 1977 BK #23 Lou Piniella became highly sought after.

These are some of mine...


There has always been a bit of a fascination with the key card to the 1977 Burger King Yankees set, #23 Lou Piniella, and it has always left collectors asking, "Why is it so hard to find???" But is that sucker STILL tough to find?? Cliff Bowman posted these amazing photos of what appears to show 750, yes seven-hundred-and-fricking-fifty, 1977 BK Lou Piniella cards!!!!

s-l1600bklp.jpgs-l1600bklp2.jpg


He also posted this miscut Piniella (an enlargement of the initial pic) with another piece of a Piniella card beside it...

untitledlpbk.jpg

...which suggests that full sheets of BK Piniellas alone were printed by Topps to be distributed late in the process to participating Burger King restaurants (geez, I sound like a commercial).

***To play devil's advocate and keep this entirely on the up and up, we can't see all the backs of the Piniella cards in the rubber band (ouch!!) photos, so they are not 'proven' to be BK cards. And the miscut card could possibly be from a regular BK print sheet from that year (with the cards of the other players positioned on the selfsame sheet). However, number one, there is no reason in heck to doubt Cliff (BTW, since I'm mentioning you so may times times, why didn't you start this thread???? ), and as far as print sheets go, think horses not zebras. It is much more likely IMHO that because of common sense, Lou Piniella was added to the set late and was most likely printed in quantity alone.***

The popular thinking was that the set was printed without the inclusion of Lou Piniella, and after George Steinbrenner complained loudly to the powers that be, it was added as card #23. Were they mass produced on their own, with many ending up piled together somewhere in storage? With Cliff's pic, I'd have to think yes. I don't see anyone with a 750 card pile of Mike Torrez anywhere.

Here a couple of random articles regarding the 1977 Burger King Yankees set...

https://www.sportscollectorsdaily.co...ear-promotion/

http://gothamist.com/2008/08/31/the_...wentythird.php

Here's a proposed timeline of events that I created (and cut and pasted from another thread in the B/S/T section):
1. Burger King starts issuing Yankees cards (a 22 card set plus checklist - no Lou Piniella)
2. George 'The Boss' Steinbrenner complains to BK/Topps, outraged that his favorite player wasn't included in the set (paraphrasing from Sparky Lyle's brief account in "The Bronx Zoo")
3. Topps prints (sheets of only?) Piniella cards and...
4. BK releases #23 cards in packs in some specific areas of the tri-state area (wow, I just realized that all states except for Maine, Hawaii and Alaska could be part of a tri-state area, but I digress) in the waning days of the promotion

So if you have anything to add to the topic or want to show your Piniellas, feel free to chime in. I think the main question remains, how rare are the #23 cards? I mean, let's say hundreds or thousands of 1933/34 Goudey Lajoies suddenly appeared (but weren't actually for sale anywhere), would they ever be considered easy to find?? Would those cards still be considered 'rare'? (Please no 'scarce' vs. 'rare' debates.) There are only a couple of Piniellas here and there available on ebay (an OC-looking PSA 7 was recently sold, probably to a member here?).
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  #2  
Old 01-26-2019, 09:52 PM
silvor silvor is offline
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I posted this to the other thread, but am reposting here...

I've always thought the 1977-1980 Burger Kings were interesting issues.

Here's some interesting items about Burger King in general I've found that may fill in the missing holes of this issue.

In 1977 there were 175k of each card produced. (I wonder if more were issued in later years and in different markets?)
So 175k x 22 (of each card) = 3,850,000
So if there's 3 cards in a cello pack, that's 1.285 million packs.

How many Piniella's were included? Were some others removed for the Piniella's? (22 is easier to pack in 3's than 23. I did the math. )

There's only 2 PSA 10's for the BK issue. There's 25 for the Topps issue. Now the 3 card cello packaging tended to damage the cards, but I have to think that's partly because of the short print.

I checked and the average BK serves 846 people daily today. Not sure how many stores there were or how many were in NY or the tri-state area?
In 1970 (the closest year I could find), there were 350 BK stores nationwide.
In 1977 BK had financial issues. My guess is this was just a part of promotions to get people in the stores.

Last edited by silvor; 01-26-2019 at 09:53 PM.
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  #3  
Old 01-26-2019, 10:28 PM
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https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lou-Piniell...53.m2748.l2649 Here is the link to the listing, I hope. He says in the title that they are all #23 and shows the back of one. I would have found it more odd for someone to have 750 1977 Topps #96 Lou Piniella cards rather than 750 1977 Burger King #23 Lou Piniella cards.
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  #4  
Old 01-26-2019, 10:48 PM
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There were a number of badly out of register cards in the lot which obviously would have never been distributed at the Burger Kings, which leads me to believe that the cards came directly from the printer source or were saved from the printers dumpster.
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  #5  
Old 01-27-2019, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff Bowman View Post
There were a number of badly out of register cards in the lot which obviously would have never been distributed at the Burger Kings, which leads me to believe that the cards came directly from the printer source or were saved from the printers dumpster.
That's funny, because in my errors & variations for trade thread, I put a 1977 BK Piniella there with what I called 'wild color shifts.' It looks like it would've been right at home in your picture.
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Last edited by JollyElm; 01-27-2019 at 12:03 AM.
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  #6  
Old 01-27-2019, 04:17 PM
chris6net chris6net is offline
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As a 13 year old growing up on Long Island I remember the Burger King cards very well. I seem to remember there being several articles in the main Newspapers (not Hobby Publications) about the Piniella card being rare and the backstory about George being upset that the card wasn't included in the initial issue which led a big jump in price for the card back then. I have the Piniella card in my set but don't know if I got it from Burger King or purchased it at a card show.
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Old 02-03-2019, 04:29 PM
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Interesting thread. I wonder, what other companies used Topps as a manufacturer for their cards?
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Old 02-04-2019, 02:31 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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K mart, Coke, brighams/coke, Zest soap, Mrs Butterworth, Drakes... among others.


I think the hostess cards were licensed from topps.


The other big producer of small sets, mostly for point of purchase promotion was MSA.
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Old 02-04-2019, 04:27 PM
ALR-bishop ALR-bishop is offline
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Co branded Topps sets might be a good candidate for a separate thread. Most would likely be post 80,

I do keep a set of the 77 Burger King cards, with the header card and Lou in the back of my 77 Topps set binder

Last edited by ALR-bishop; 02-04-2019 at 04:28 PM.
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  #10  
Old 02-04-2019, 04:53 PM
Hot Springs Bathers Hot Springs Bathers is offline
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I would guess 90 percent of the plethora of small boxes sets in the 1980's were Topps products? While they seem cheesy today I loved them back then!
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