#CardCorner: 1969 Topps Chico Salmon
Hall of Fame staffers are also baseball fans and love to share their stories. Here is a fan's perspective from Cooperstown.
Chico Salmon seems to be perfectly at ease on his 1969 Topps card. In looking at this common card from the late 1960s, there is no way to tell about the phobia that Salmon once felt; he had a tangible fear of ghosts. In fact, he was so fearful of spirits from another realm that he refused to sleep in the dark; the light in his room would have to remain on throughout the night. Salmon’s fear apparently stemmed from his childhood years, when his mother and other members of his family warned him that ghosts could enter rooms at night if the windows were left open or if keyholes in the door were left unplugged. In order to combat the situation, Salmon typically stuffed chewing gum into the keyhole and a rolled-up towel under the door, all as additional protection against the spirit world.
Salmon’s 1969 card provides us with no evidence of the presence of ghosts, but it does give us a peek into how tumultuous his world was that spring. We see that Salmon is clearly wearing the iconic 1960s-era uniform of the Cleveland Indians, which featured a sleeveless vest and a bright red undershirt, even though the designation at the bottom of the card is spelled out as “PILOTS.” As it turns out, Salmon’s 1969 Topps card is the final one that shows him wearing the colors of the Indians, who left him exposed to the expansion draft. That decision allowed the brand new Seattle Pilots franchise to claim him, in the hope that Salmon would compete to become their everyday second baseman.
As it turned out, Salmon didn’t play for the Pilots either in 1969. The Pilots brought Salmon to Spring Training, but he lost the second base battle to Tommy Harper, a player with more power and raw offensive talent than Salmon. As a result, Salmon never appeared in a game for a Pilots team that would soon become famous because of Jim Bouton’s Ball Four.