1970 Orioles Matchbooks

I’m not a collector of Orioles memorabilia, or even Baseball overall, but I am writing this article because of some cool things I recently found at my favorite Ice Cream Parlor. (Yes, Ice Cream Parlor! The ice cream rocks as well!) The specific item I located was a small, 12 piece lot, of 1970 Baltimore Orioles Matchbooks. The set is listed as 1970 Orioles Matchbooks in Beckett and on the PSA website[1].

Research into the Matchbooks determined they were issued as schedules for Baltimore Orioles games for the 1970-71 season. The Matchbooks were manufactured by Universal Match Company[2], which from other articles, was the pioneer or at least a large part of the history surrounding collectible Matchbooks[3]. Review of some of the items lists the “Maryland Match Company”, which may have been a part of the Universal Match company. But let’s move on.

The 1970 Orioles Matchbooks have the Orioles Logo on one side and the reverse has a head/face portrait of one of the players from the 70-71 season. Included in the 24 player set were Hall-of-Famers, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Boog Powell and Coach Earl Weaver. Additional well-known players such as Jim Hardin and Dave McNally were also included. Some research identifies 25 matchbooks in the set. Although I do not have one and have not identified one, there has been references to an Orioles logo matchbook as well with no player on the reverse. Neither Beckett nor PSA has this matchbook listed on the set list. There is a World Champions Matchbook that was issued and may be considered the 25th Matchbook by some collectors. This “Banner” Matchbook does possess the Orioles logo on one side with recent World Champion and American League Champion banners on the reverse including one for the 1970 season. I have a complete set list if anyone is interested.

Research through Beckett and PSA determined very few of these items have been graded and none have been identified over a PSA 6. PSA has graded less than 60 matchbooks in total. Not every player in the set has been represented in the current PSA library. The highest grade issued to any Matchbook has been a PSA 6, with most falling in the PSA 4 range. Reasons for the low grades could include the usage and damage from opening and closing the matchbook, scratches in the gloss from removing the matches and storage in pockets and the removal of the staples which must be removed prior to grading. Additional issues such as aging of the paper which gives the matchbooks a “brownish tinge” and issues regarding the ink and printing (outside of the lines) where the manufacturing was off, like it was for many items from the 60’s and 70’s. Ungraded items, in Gem Mint condition command a premium on the open market, with low grade examples of common players still selling.
As best determined from PSA’s website, a PSA 4 Chico Salmon Matchbook sold for $226.00 on the open market. Review of eBay determined a PSA 5 Jim Hardin sold for approximately $30.00. This is a monster difference in values which could be due to many factors, most of which is could be attributed to low collector appeal (few collector’s trying to complete the set in high grades) and overall low populations especially in high grades.

Contact with long time collector of Baltimore Orioles items, mainly sports cards, determined they weren’t even aware of the matchbook’s existence.

In short, if you are a collector of vintage Baltimore Orioles items, these Matchbooks could be a sweet item to add to your collection at a low to moderate price range!
If you dare to collect and grade the entire set, you could have a very rare, unique collectible for years to come!

[1] https://www.psacard.com/pop/baseball...chbooks/162317

[2] https://www.beckett.com/baseball/197...les-matchbooks

[3] https://matchpro.org/Archives/Hobby%...y/UNIVRSAL.pdf