If you look at a checklist for the 1960 Leaf baseball set, you’ll notice something pretty interesting; there are six Hal Smith cards in the 144-card set. You will find four versions of the St. Louis Cardinal’s catcher Hal Smith’s card #58 in the first series, and in the second series, you will see card #94 for Baseball’s Two Hall Smiths and card #119 for the Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher Hal Smith. So why four versions of card #58, and how is that related to the cards in the second series? No one knows for sure, but I’ll share my theory in this article.
First, let’s go over some background on the 1960 Leaf set. First, The set carries the copyright for “Sports Novelties, Inc., Chicago, Ill.” on the back of the cards. They came in a 5-cent wax pack which included a marble (which damaged cards in the pack). While the set doesn’t have a lot of big names, it does have some scarcity, particularly in high grades and in the second series (#s 73-144), which Leaf produced in lower quantities. The key cards include Luis Aparicio, Brooks Robinson, Duke Snider, Sparky Anderson, Orlando Cepeda, Curt Flood, Jim Bunning, and these Hal Smith cards.
First, let’s talk about the Large Portrait version of the 1960 Leaf #58 Hal Smith card.
The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards considers this part of an 8-card pre-production set of 1960 Leaf cards. It’s believed Leaf produced them before the final approval of the set’s design, and the cards tend to show evidence of having been hand-cut. Some dealers, like Dean’s Cards, think they were promotional items. PSA has only graded 6 of these cards; there’s one PSA 9, three PSA 8s, one PSA 7, and one PSA 7 with a qualifier. One of the PSA 8s sold for $622 in April 2021, and another PSA 8 sold for $810 in December 2020.
So really, we are looking at three actual variations for the 1960 Leaf #58 Hal Smith card; Team & Position on Back, Team Missing on Back, and Team Blackened out. The prevailing theory is that the team missing and blackened out variations were released early in the 1st Series print-run but corrected as Leaf developed the second series cards.
Hobby historians believe Leaf editors got confused by the fact that there were two players named Hal Smith in MLB. When Leaf started designing the second series, they probably made the corrected version of card #58 and the Two Hal Smiths card when someone drafted/edited the Pirates’ Hal Smith biography and realized mistakes were made on card #58. The fact that both of the cards featuring the Pirates’ Hal Smith are in the second series, the Pirates’ Hal Smith card #119 saying he is not related to the Hal Smith of the Cardinals, and that the Baseball’s Two Hal Smiths card #94 talks about their names confusing sportswriters, I think it’s logical to conclude that Leaf editors got a little disorganized themselves.
It makes sense that the error variations of the 1960 Leaf #58 Hal Smith card were early mistakes that Leaf ultimately corrected, which is validated a bit by PSA’s population report; they’re pretty rare.
The Hal Smith with Team Missing on Back has a PSA population of 22. The last sale was $198 in December 2021 for a PSA 6, and a PSA 4 sold for $84 in August 2021. Recently, a collector listed a PSA 4 on eBay for $499.
The Hal Smith with Team Blackened Out has a population of 24. The last sale was $198 in December 2021 for a PSA 4. Another PSA 4 sold for $850 in October 20202, and an 8.5 sold for $660 in October 2018. Lately, there has been a PSA 6 listed on eBay for $1700
The corrected version with the Team & Position on Back has a population of 91, including two PSA 10s, twelve PSA 9s, and 30 PSA 8s. The last few sales include a PSA 9 for $48 in November 2021 and another PSA 9 in June 2021 at $57.
The second series Baseball’s Two Hal Smith’s card is one of the set’s most popular cards. Remember that collectors grade the card more often, with the second series being more valuable. The population of card #94 is 70. The last recorded sale for one was $160 for a PSA 9 back in July 2020.
The Pirates’ Hal Smith, card #119, has a graded population of 62 and is considered a “common” amongst the second series cards. There hasn’t been a recorded sale on PSA’s APR site since November 2017, when a PSA 8.5 sold for $56, but a PSA 9 is listed on eBay today for $195.
Like I wrote early, Leaf’s editors probably got confused when they wrote the Hal Smith player biographies. Luckily for set collectors, a pretty ordinary 1960 baseball set with only a few star players becomes much more exciting and challenging to collect with the inclusion of these variations.
If you collect the 1960 Leaf set, let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to follow PostWarCards on Twitter and Instagram. Happy Collecting!