Sports Collectors

Forgotten Hoard of 1974 Topps Rack Packs “A Classic Pandemic Story”

Eddie Healy is a law student with deep Baltimore roots. Some decades-old baseball card packs with Orioles branding he recently discovered are expected to cover plenty of tuition.

Healy, 30, is the owner of a group of 23 unopened 1974 Topps baseball rack packs owned by his late father, Ed Healy III, that are among the highlights of Robert Edward Auctions’ current catalog. Three of them are being sold separately, while there are four lots of five packs apiece in the company’s Fall Auction.

Eddie Healy holding one of the 23 1974 Topps rack packs that originally belonged to his late father.

The three separate rack packs have a Dave Winfield rookie showing on the back, along with fellow Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins. 

The second rack pack showcases Mike Schmidt on the front while the third pack includes Reggie Jackson on the back.

Forgotten Hoard of 1974 Topps Rack Packs "A Classic Pandemic Story"

Other rack packs include Hall of Famers such as Ron Santo, Gaylord Perry and Tony Perez, and notable stars such as Tim McCarver, Lee May, Jim Kaat, Cleon Jones, Claude Osteen and Sal Bando.

The 1974 rack packs sold for 39 cents and contained 42 cards. Each included a blue header card, but Topps partnered with some major league teams for a promotional giveaway that included a special team-oriented header card. 

Forgotten Hoard of 1974 Topps Rack Packs "A Classic Pandemic Story"

Healy’s father, Ed Healy III, was a longtime manager at Perring Place Restaurant in Baltimore, owned by Orioles owner Peter Angelos and located ten minutes away from Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium. The elder Healy, who died in 2014 at age 55, was 16 in 1974 when he obtained the rack packs. He never opened them.

“It’s the most confusing thing to me,” Eddie said. “He was 16. I don’t know if he had some foresight, or what.

“He didn’t really throw things out. He had an eye for stuff.”

Ed Healy III also had Topps sets from 1967 and 1969.

“Sadly, most of the 1969 set was glued,” Eddie said. “Plus, one of his friends put his initial on the cards. There’s a Reggie Jackson rookie card in great shape, but with a ‘D’ and glue.”

The elder Healy grew up in Baltimore, where his family has lived for generations, dating to the 1850s. His neighborhood, located about five minutes from Memorial Stadium, was filled with the children of Baltimore sports heroes. Some of his friends included the children of Colts tight end Jim Mutscheller and Orioles first baseman Boog Powell

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Forgotten Hoard of 1974 Topps Rack Packs "A Classic Pandemic Story"

“The Mutscheller boys lived on Greendale Road, along with my father, just a bunch of Baltimore rowhouses,” Eddie said. “Boog Powell lived on Medford Road (two blocks away), and Davey Johnson lived on Tunlaw Road (four blocks away).”

During his college days at Loyola College (now University), Ed Healy III was a manager with Volume Services, a catering firm that served Memorial Stadium, according to The Baltimore Sun. He later leased the ballpark’s Pizza Tower, a food stand located behind home plate. That’s where he met his wife, and Eddie’s mother, Mary Lou Di Marco. Some of his more famous customers included Amy Carter, the president’s daughter, the newspaper reported.

Ed Healy III took over as manager of Perring Place when the previous manager — his father, Edward Healy Jr. — took his business skills to the north suburbs to manage the Tail of the Fox restaurant in Timonium.

While running Perring Place, one of Ed Healy’s customers was legendary Baltimore broadcaster Chuck Thompson, who called Orioles and Colts games.

“My father was technically his godfather,” Eddie said, noting that Thompson converted to Catholicism. “He’d come into the restaurant for lunch, and then he would look at the TV and call an inning of the game that was on.”

Among the collectibles Ed Healy III had from Perring Place were two receipts signed by Orioles manager Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, Eddie said.

Back to the present. Eddie Healy is attending the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law and expects to receive his juris doctor next year. He currently is an intern for Marcus Z. Shar in the Baltimore City Circuit Court.

He grew up rooting for the Orioles and the Ravens. His favorite Oriole? Melvin Mora.

“Very underappreciated,” said Eddie, who also liked Mike Mussina, Jay Gibbons and Rafael Palmeiro. Just don’t mention Jeffrey Maier.

“That’s a curse word in my house,” Eddie said.

Forgotten Hoard of 1974 Topps Rack Packs "A Classic Pandemic Story"

His father’s favorite players were Brooks Robinson — “my favorite card from my dad’s collection was the 1969 Brooks Sporting News All-Star card” — and surprisingly, Milt Pappas, who was part of the trade that brought Frank Robinson to Baltimore and started the Orioles on a streak that saw them win four American League pennants and two World Series titles between 1966 and 1971.

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“He was upset when Pappas got traded,” Eddie said. “But he quickly forgot.”

Eddie’s professional sports background is extensive, as he worked for 11 months for the Baltimore Ravens as an intern in ticket sales and public relations and calls Ed Reed his favorite player. Eddie also was a scouting intern for the Baltimore Ravens during their Super Bowl XLVII championship season in 2012.

“I got a Super Bowl ring,” Eddie said. “I was flying high.”

Eddie knew about the 1974 rack packs because his father had shown them to him from time to time. Recently, he looked for them again while reorganizing.

“It is the classic pandemic story,” said Eddie, who owns a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola. “I was out of a job, it was terminated because of budget cuts, and I decided to reorganize my dad’s baseball cards.

“When I picked up the rack packs, it dawned on me. I thought they might be worth something.”

Forgotten Hoard of 1974 Topps Rack Packs "A Classic Pandemic Story"

Eventually, he wound up on eBay and saw some other 1974 rack packs.

“I was looking at the listing prices and saw $1,800 and went, ‘Wait a minute,’” Eddie said.

Eddie then took one of the rack packs and visited three local card shops.

“The first guy told me it was not worth much, that 1974 was a bad year for Topps,” Eddie said. “The second guy was like, ‘You might have something there.’”

That’s when Eddie connected with several auction houses before settling on REA.

“It was a pretty fun bidding war,” Eddie said. “I talked with Calvin (Arnold) at REA, it was a 15-day process. He said they would totally do this (sell the rack packs) for us.”

During its Spring 2019 sale, REA sold a 1974 rack pack that included Winfield, Schmidt, Lou Brock and Luis Aparicio for $20,400.

Forgotten Hoard of 1974 Topps Rack Packs "A Classic Pandemic Story"

Eddie’s packs were authenticated and are ready to go.

“Dad always told me, ‘Don’t open them and hold on to them,’” Eddie said earlier this month on the Dr. James Beckett Sports Card Insights podcast.

The cards are still wrapped, and Eddie stands to rack up a nice profit when the auction ends Dec. 6.

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