Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Binge Part V: Ringside!


The Card: 1951 Topps Ringside Abe Attell

What did it cost? $9.76 shipped

Why did I buy it? I first saw a Ringside card back in September. After seeing some of the '48 Leaf boxing cards that my local had gotten in, one of their longtime customers brought in an album that he had his near-complete set of Leaf boxing in, as well as his near-complete set of Ringside (only missing the Rocky Marciano card, which was short-printed for some reason I'm blanking on), a set that featured both boxers and pro wrestlers. When I saw Ringside, I fell in love. Fast forward a little less than six months later, and I have my first Ringside card. They're terrific old cards, from a sport that, while it straddles the line between irrelevant and trainwreck nowadays, was strongly tied into American pop culture history for a really long time. Boxing, from its early days in America until about the time when Cus D'Amato died (and boxing with him, for all intents and purposes), is fascinating to me. I'm no expert, but I love watching, reading and learning about the sport. Plus, Ringside is one of Topps first issues. These are 60 year old cards now.

Why'd I choose Abe Attell for my first card? Well, it had a little to do with price of course, and as I researched him a bit, a bunch more to do with his history. You see, in addition to a then-featherweight-record 6 year stretch as World Champion (1906-1912, contrary to what the card says; this was a record that stood until 1985), and the fact that no less than Bat Masterson declared that Attell was the best pound-for-pound fighter he'd seen, save for a guy named Wyatt Earp (see what I mean about the ties to American history?), Abe's got a rather infamous tie to baseball. He was good friends with the gangster Arnold Rothstein, and while he was acquitted (he convinced a jury that Arnold Rothstein had two friends named Abe Attell, and it was the other guy who was bringing cash to the ballplayers; nah, that jury couldn't have been tampered with, could it?), he was rumored to be the messenger between Rothstein and the 1919 White Sox in the Black Sox scandal. Great little piece of history there.

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