Friday, September 25, 2020

Vintage backgrounds: Mystery at Daytona City Island Ballpark

 What was so offensive about the ads on the walls at the Expos' spring training home in Daytona Beach? Three players have ads in the background that have been obscured by black marker.

You can see it a little bit on the right of Ellis Valentine's card.

It's much clearer on the left of Jerry White's card. Note that it is to the left of a yellow sign.

The same can be seen on Dan Warthen's card, though now it is to the left of a white sign with a red logo. Was the sign on the right changed, or is this a different sign that was obscured?

I scoured all of the Expos cards in '77 Topps, and the years before and after, for clues. The other sets weren't helpful. Pepe Frias and Gary Carter have cards that feature the outfield wall unobscured but too far away to read. Woodie Fryman's card, however, provides a possible clue. The logo on the sign to the right of the Belk Lindsey sign has what appears to be the same logo as the sign on the Warthen card, though missing the red dot in the middle. Was the red dot also added by a Topps staffer?

Belk Lindsey, now just known as Belk, is a regional department store chain. That does not seem offensive, the way the Marlboro ad in Yankee Stadium might have. Had they refused to sell Topps products? Did someone at Topps think the logo was too prominent and interfered with the picture? Or perhaps the obscured sign is something else entirely.

1977 is my cutoff for vintage. When I started the Vintage Backgrounds project, my intent was to find all kinds of interesting things in the backgrounds of vintage cards. My first few posts happened to be about ballparks and they generated a lot of interest, so I started focusing on those. For future posts in this series I am going to go back and do what I originally intended, and look for other surprising objects/people/etc.


  1. I've never noticed those blacked out ads before. Any photos online of that spring training park from the '70s?

  2. This is a thing that I would've never noticed had someone else not pointed it out to me. Hopefully you'll be able to solve the mystery, and possibly do a follow-up if you're able to.

  3. Great eye, Bo! Good suggestion by Night Owl, too. Hopefully this mystery has a "Part 2".