1960 was really the first year I collected baseball cards. Prior to 1960, I had a few, mostly the former collection of Richie Israel who had outgrown his cards from the mid-50's, which he not only gave me, but which I now wish I still had.
And, my favorite cards are still, and will always be Topps 1959, but in 1960 I first started buying, starting with a pack in the spring of that year that yielded Jim Davenport atop the pack, dusted with the white powder of bubble gum. I still remember his card was #154 in the series (sigh, I remember from back then) and that though I had never watched a complete major league game then, at age seven, I was completely drawn into the universe the back of the card promised (though I remember the number, I don't remember anything from the back of Jimmy D's).
I continued to buy them here and there that year, and by the next year my brother Peter and I were addicted enough to get a complete set in 1961 and then for several more years, until it became uncool for a few years, though I continued to watch and go to games.
In that magical 1960 I think (sad I cannot remember this but I can remember Davenport's card number) I attended my first game, then a minor league affair with the local Sacramento Solons who played someone, though again I cannot recall against. But, I did know the Solons had Al Heist as a star, and Heist eventually wound up a Chicago Cub. Clay Dalrymple was the Solons backstop, and he went on to the Phillies, and his back-up, Cuno Barragan, not only moved on to play for the Cubs, but he augmented his income during the off-season as a teacher, and for a couple of days he was the substitute in my seventh grade math class.
In 1960 my very, very favorite baseball card belonged to the Reds pitcher, Mike Ceuller, which shows the pitcher in his follow through. The cards that year featured two pics (you can click on his name to see the card), one large and rectangular with a smaller pic, usually of a different pose. Except in Ceuller's case, both pictures were exactly the same.
But, there was something about the picture and the yellow and blue colors at the bottom of the card where his name and the Reds logo are located.
Funny thing about Ceuler is that his rookie card was in 1959, but after 1961, he did not have another card until 1965 when Ceuller resurfaced as a member of the Cards, then the Astros, and finally, in 1969 with the Orioles. In fact he was among the four O's hurlers who won 20 games in 1971 (along with Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson, and Dave McNally).
Mr.Ceuller passed away last week, and his death precipitated the Proustian memories of 1960 and his card and when I truly fell in love with baseball.
I did, by the way, see one full game on TV in 1960. Remember that back then, for the most part baseball on television was restricted pretty much to the Saturday game with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese on CBS, at least till the post season.
Somehow, on the final day of the 1960 World Series, my mother kept me home from school, and while she was performing her motherly chores, she parked me in front of the television, so the first game I really viewed, end-to-end, was game No. 7, when Hal Smith hit a pinch-hit three-run homer to tie and send the game to extra innings, and Bill Virdon made his great catch, and Bill Mazeroski pulled his walk-off.
From then on I was hooked.