1963 Jell-o Craig

The years 1961 through 1963 represent the golden age of cereal-box cards.

The Post company plastered the backs of packages of Toasties, Rice Krinkles, Grape Nut Flakes, and the like with cutout cards of all the stars (and many lesser lights) of the day. And the sugared-up kids of the early sixties broke out their safety scissors and did their level best to cut along the dashed black lines…

In both 1962 and 1963, Jell-O products displayed cards that were nearly identical to the Post issues, with just some minor formatting differences to distinguish the respective sets.

One of the fun things about these cards is the fact that the pricing can be a bit topsy-turvy. For example, this 1963 Jell-O Roger Craig is more expensive than cards of Harmon Killebrew, Yogi Berra, Al Kaline, Brooks Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and other higher-profile names from the same set.

The reason for this disparity comes down to scarcity. It is thought that certain players were featured on less popular flavors, and/or appeared on fewer varieties of the company’s gelatin and pudding mixes, resulting in fewer cards being printed and preserved.

A little research reveals that Craig adorned the back of raspberry-flavored mix in 1963, as shown in this scan from a 2011 Legendary Auctions lot:

Roger Craig panel 1

Although raspberry was one of the original Jell-O flavors when the product launched in 1897, it is not a stretch to imagine that it got a little lost on the shelves in 1963, by which time Jell-O was offering more than a dozen other gelatin/pudding varieties.

These Bob Lillis boxes from that same auction demonstrate the point regarding the impact of frequency on current book price:

Lillis Jello 1 Lillis Jello 2

In a collecting vacuum, Lillis and Craig are equally common, but in the 1963 Jell-O set Lillis is worth less than half of what Craig is worth. This is unsurprising when we consider that Lillis appeared on both the raspberry box and the no doubt very popular lemon box…

11 comments on “Mets Card of the Week: 1963 Roger Craig

  • Brian Joura

    If only Mark Lemongello was active in the early 60s…

    Thanks for this informative post. I’m not a big Jello fan but I can’t imagine having a preference for Lemon over Raspberry.

  • Doug Parker

    I guess the lemon and lime flavors worked better with those Jell-O salads beloved by all the era’s mad men/women…

  • Fireman488

    I saw Roger Craig (NY Mets) pick Willie Mays (SF Giants) off first base at the Polo Grounds in 1962 or 63. He had a great pickoff move, in spite of the fact that Willie was a great baserunner and base stealer.

    • Don G

      I’ve been trying to find a video of that play.
      I vividly remember that ballgame at the Polo Grounds. My Dad, a NYC Fireman for 35 years, took me to the game. I remember Willie kept taunting Craig but Craig had an excellent pickoff move and after some 3-4 throws, he nailed Willie (to my disappointment – I was a big ‘Say Hey’ Fan.
      I’m trying to remember if it was ‘62 or ‘63 … probably ‘62z

  • Doug Parker

    Fireman488, on Monday, July 16, 1962, the Mets and Giants squared off at the Polo Grounds. Willie Mays led off the top of the 7th in a 1-1 game with a single off Roger Craig. Mays was promptly picked off at first with Orlando Cepeda at the plate.

    Cepeda would go on to single and then score the go-ahead run on a throwing error. (A throwing error by the 1962 Mets? Now there’s a shock..) The Giants went on to win the game 3-2, dropping the Mets to 24-64 on the season…

    Thanks very much for sharing your memories!

    • Don G

      Just read this post – after my reply to ‘Fireman’. So it was July ‘62! I remember it was a sunny day and it was a Pitcher’s Duel between Craig and ?. Was it just one throw from Craig that picked off Willie? I thought he made several throws before finally catching Willie.

  • Jim OMalley

    Love these cards!!!!!! I always have trouble with differentiating between the two versions.

  • Fireman488

    Wow, thanks for the play by play Doug; that’s terrific!!

  • Patrick Albanesius

    Only in baseball can you find the exact moment something happened over 50 years ago. Gotta love those scorecards, and you gotta love these posts!

  • Ken Marks

    Generally your analysis is right related to availability of certain 63 Jello cards. But it is not flavors that is the main driver if a player is a SP in the set or not. As documented by Dan Mabey, it is the size of the box. Each of the 200 players in the 63 Jello set only appeared on either large (6 oz.) or small 3 (oz.) boxes of Jello–never on both sizes. The SP cards are all the cards that appeared on the 6 oz. packages of Jello. No players who appeared on the 3 oz. are SP and thus readily available in the hobby. With the exception of 3 young and yet to be recognized as superstars (McCovey, Gibson, and B Williams), every big star was on 3 oz boxes only. Related to Lillis and Craig, both appeared on large size boxes of Lemon, Black Cherry, and Raspberry flavor Jello packages (similiar to Battey, Stafford, McBride, Cunningham, Brown, Pappas, Kirkland, Bressoud, Pagan, S Williams, O’tolle, Gibson, Landrum, Taylor, Covington, and Aspromonte,) All SP cards are tough. And Price Guides do offer different prices for different cards. Some of it may related to how tough the companion 63 Post Cereal card is to find (probably why Aspomonte is the recognized most valuable card), but overall all if you were to ask serious collectors which 10 1963 jello cards are the toughest to find, suspect you would find a wide variety of answers, primarily because SP are so hard to find. When I completed my set a number of years ago, Tony Cloninger was the last card I found (a big thanks to Bill McAvoy on that one. Anyway, hope this helps someone.

  • Doug Parker

    Thanks so much for the expert input, Ken!

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