Eureka!

It’s the type of expression you might hear when someone makes a joyous discovery, like striking gold or breaking through a scientific barrier or finding that gosh darn thingamabob you have to have in order to make your vacuum cleaner work, but that you misplaced when you were getting the house ready for family last Christmas.

Or … like when you sign an amateur free agent for your baseball team, and that guy becomes an All-Star, and then a Hall of Famer.

It’s like striking diamond gold, I tell you.

Or, it’s like the Philadelphia Phillies in 1948.

That year, the Phillies would finish 66-88, the latest in a long, long run of losing seasons … they had posted just one winning campaign (1932) since 1917.

But that year, 1948, the Phils signed a young righthander named Robin Roberts as an amateur free agent out of Michigan State University. It was a good time and a good franchise to be a prospect, assuming your goal was to make it to the Major Leagues.

Roberts definitely seemed to have The Show on his mind as he ran up a 9-1 record with a silly 2.06 ERA in 11 games with the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Interstate League that spring and early summer.

It was a “Eureka!” enough moment for Philly to bring Roberts up to the big team, and he made his debut on June 18, going eight strong innings but losing a 2-0 decision to the Pirates.

Find 1949 Eureka Sportstamps on eBay (affiliate link)

Find 1949 Eureka Sportstamps on Amazon (affiliate link)

He would have to get used to meager run support, at least for awhile, as his 3.19 ERA in 20 MLB starts that summer was rewarded with a modest 7-9 record.

Of course, within a couple years, Roberts and other young stars like Richie Ashburn, Curt Simmons, Willie Jones, and Granny Hamner would have the Whiz Kids Phillies in the World Series (1950).

They were a eureka! team if ever there was one.

Before then, though, they’d score their first winning season in forever, in 1949, and Roberts would snag his rookie card — a colorful 1949 Bowman issue showing a closeup of the righty in his pitching follow-through.

The youngster also made appearances in a couple of regional Phillies issues that summer, put out by Sealtest dairy (stickers) and Lummus Peanut Butter.

And there was one more … a set that truly fit the eureka! vibes around the upstart Phils — the Eureka Sportstamps issue.

As the name implies, these weren’t really cards, but stamps issued in sheets with perforations between them to allow for easy separating. You know … like stamps.

There was an album you could send away for and everything, so you could pop apart the sheets, lick the stamps, and put them in their proper place … all 200 of them.

That number included 198 players, Commissioner Happy Landis, and National League President Ford Frick.

Ah … but the catch was, there zero American Leaguers in the set.

But there was a Robin Roberts rookie card/sticker there at #144.

That former of those facts — no Ted Williams, no Joe DiMaggio, no Lou Boudreau — has dampened this sets popularity over the years, which makes the latter fact — a Robin Roberts rookie! — all the more remarkable.

Because, today, you can occasionally find the 1949 Eureka Sportstamps Robin Roberts on the cheap, like way, way under $50 for raw copies.

And you just can’t beat an inexpensive 70-year-old (plus!) rookie card of a Hall of Famer.

In this case, though, you can lick it.


Wow! Wax of the Day

It’s not wax, and it’s not unopened, but this complete 1949 Eureka Sportstamps set, all affixed in its album is super cool, anyway. And it’s up for grabs on eBay …

“Wax” is all a state of mind, anyway. Check out the full listing here (affiliate link).