Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#3 Elmer Valo - Kansas City Athletics

Elmer William Valo
Kansas City Athletics

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'11"  Weight:  190
Born:  March 5, 1921, Rybnik, Czechoslovakia
Signed:  Signed by the Philadelphia Athletics as an amateur free agent in 1938
Major League Teams:  Philadelphia Athletics 1940-1943, 1946-1954; Kansas City Athletics 1955-1956; Philadelphia Phillies 1956; Brooklyn Dodgers 1957; Los Angeles Dodgers 1958; Cleveland Indians 1959; New York Yankees 1960; Washington Senators 1960; Minnesota Twins 1961; Philadelphia Phillies 1961
Died:  July 19, 1998, Palmerton, PA (age 77)

Elmer Valo enjoyed a 20-year career, playing his first 13 seasons for the Philadelphia Athletics.  His best season was 1955 when he earned A.L. MVP consideration after posting a .364 average and a .460 OBP over 112 games.  Valo has the distinction of playing with three franchises that relocated - the Athletics, the Dodgers and the Senators.  Putting this post together, I realized I've always said Valo's name wrong.  According to Baseball Reference, the pronunciation is VOLL-oh and not VALL-oh as I had always assumed.

Building the Set
June 20, 1992 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #99
This is one of 11 cards my Dad I bought in June 1992 at the Ocean City baseball card show held on the boardwalk at the Music Pier.  We paid $60 for the lot of 11 cards, which at the time was most likely a steal.  Chronologically, I have this listed as the 99th card we added to the set.

I would have just graduated high school when we attended this show, and I'd be heading off to college in the fall.  If I had to guess, I'd say we purchased this lot of 11 cards from a baseball card dealer who called his operation Diamond Dust.  His cards were always nicely displayed in binders and I remember his table would be positioned in the back right of the lower level of the Music Pier.

After purchasing these cards, Dad and I undoubtedly sat at the counter of Mack & Manco's, enjoying a few slices of pizza with birch beer.  On the coldest winter days, Dad and I would daydream of having a slice from Mack & Manco's with the sounds of the boardwalk and sea gulls in the background.

The Card
As is the case with a lot of 1956 Topps cards, the action photo may or may not actually be the the main player featured.  Valo wore #10 during the bulk of his Athletics career and wore #35 in 1955. The outfielder leaping over the fence to presumably haul in a baseball appears to be wearing #14. The head shot of Valo had been used previously on his 1954 and 1955 Topps cards.  Interestingly enough, Valo's 1954 Topps card features the "A" logo on his cap and his 1955 Topps card switches over to a "KC" logo on his cap.  His 1956 Topps card reverts back to the "A" logo on his cap.

Valo never played in the World Series and the back of his card mentions the closest he ever got with the 1948 Athletics.  That team would finish in 4th place, 12 1/2 games behind the Indians.

My version of this card is the gray-backed version as opposed to the somewhat more desireable white-backed version.  I touched up the card to turn it into a Phillies card in this post over at The Phillies Room.

1956 Season
At 35 years old, Valo was released by the Athletics on May 21st and signed the next day with the Phillies.  He'd spend the entire season with the Phillies serving as one of the team's regular outfielders in right alongside Richie Ashburn in center and Del Ennis in left.  In 98 games with the Phillies, Valo hit .289 with 5 home runs and 37 RBIs.

Phillies Career
In April 1957, Valo was part of a six-player trade with the Dodgers ending his short time back in Philadelphia.  He'd return one more time to the Phillies in June 1961, appearing in 50 games and hitting .186 (8 for 43) before calling it a career.  Valo served as a scout for the Phils between 1969 and 1982 and served for several of those years as a special instructor at spring training in Clearwater.  The picture at right is Valo's photo from the Scouts' page in the 1980 Phillies Yearbook.

Valo entered the Athletics portion of the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1995, being inducted alongside Mike Schmidt.  He has two Phillies baseball cards that I'm aware of - 1957 Topps #54 and 1989 Pacific Legends II #187.

1949 Bowman #66
1951 Topps Red Backs #28
1957 Topps #54
1961 Topps #186
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1949 Bowman #66
First Topps Card:  1951 Topps Red Backs #28
Representative Phillies Card:  1957 Topps #54
Last Topps Card:  1961 Topps #186
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2007 Topps Distinguished Service #DS13

64 - Valo non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 10/20/15

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Phillies Room
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.


  1. Really digging this blog - it looks great and I like hearing the stories of how you obtained these cards...

  2. 20 year career and a MVP to boot. Not bad at all.