Orioles autograph collectors are lucky that the Crown Gasoline card set was issued in 1991 to commemorate the final season that the team played in Memorial Stadium. The set included every single player who appeared in even a single game for the team from their introduction in Baltimore in 1954 through the early '91 season. In many cases, the Crown card is the only baseball card made of those players, and certainly the only Orioles card that exists for quite a few others.
The set can also be a bit of a curse to someone like me, who would be happy to have any autograph of many of these players if not for the Crown set picturing them as Orioles. As I can attest, it is much easier to find any random signature of a player as opposed to trying to find a specific card that is signed. Which leads me to this post.
As I said, the Crown set came out in 1991, so any player that passed away before that time and is included in the set obviously never signed their card; 32 former Orioles players died before the set came out so there are no signed Crowns of those guys. Another five died during 1991, and as the set was available for sale in four parts (May 18, June 29, August 11, & September 16) most of those five passed away before they feasibly could've signed their Crown cards.
Finally getting to the main point of this post, the list of Orioles autographs I have been chasing after is at a scant 15 players I have been trying to track down upgrades for; and of those 15, 8 are only pictured as Orioles on their crown cards, John Anderson, Stan Jefferson, Ed Lopat, Chuck Oertel, Carl Powis, Joe Taylor, Valmy Thomas, and Marv Throneberry. Of that group, Stan Jefferson is still alive, so I can hold out hope that one day he will sign his Crown card, or I will come across a signed copy. Of the others, I have seen signed copies of Taylor's Crown, and have been told of other collectors who have Lopat & Thomas in their collections.
Which leaves us with John Anderson, Chuck Oertel, Carl Powis, & Marv Throneberry. I recently came across the story of an older gentleman who has collected autographs of this set since it came out in 1991. And he doesn't have any of those four signed Crowns, among a few others. Which leads me to believe that those signed Crowns might simply not exist. And if that's the case, I'm going to remove them from my need list.
If anyone out there owns, or has ever seen a signed Crown card of any of those four, please let me know, because I am at the point where I am seriously doubting their existence. Anderson and Powis largely fell off the map after their playing careers ended, and their autographs seem to be extremely limited. I don't know much about Oertel's post playing career, but his autographs are also quite limited. Throneberry was a Miller Lite spokesman after his career, but passed away in 1994 after battling cancer, so it's possible that he was too ill to sign once the set came out.
Again, if anyone knows if these signed cards do in fact exist, please let me know. Because after almost a decade of trying to track them down, I think they might just not be out there.
Love the post about the Crowns. Still working on the set myself so it serves double duty for me of collecting the set and also counting as a copy of a signed Orioles card for my all time collection. I'm still waiting for pictures of the ones we talked about before. I do have a signed Jefferson from a signing on SCN about 5 years ago. If you want I can send you a pic if you've never seen one.
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