If you’r a fan of baseball history — like, the stuff that changed the game but didn’t necessarily happen on the field — then you surely know who Andy Messersmith is.

Just as a reminder …

Messersmith, then the Dodgers ace, and Montreal Expos hurler Dave McNally took their teams to arbitration in 1975 to challenge the clubs’ decision to renew their contracts when negotiations fell through. It was a common practice and one that had led to all sorts of threats and salvos, with a long line of legendary combatants that included Curt Flood, Marvin Miller, and Catfish Hunter.

In December of ’75, though, arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled in favor of Messersmith and McNally, instantly making them free agents and changing the landscape of the game forever.

Before he went blazing through the game’s “traditions,” however, Messersmith established himself as one of the best in the sport with three All-Star appearances and three top-five Cy Young finishes in the five years leading up to his monumental lawsuit.

And, though, he was a Dodger superstar, the first of Messersmith’s breakout years came wayyyyy down I-5 in Anaheim.

Find Jack in the Box cards on eBay (affiliate link)

Find Jack in the Box cards on Amazon (affiliate link)

Originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 1965 MLB Draft, the righty instead returned to USC, where the California Angels nabbed him in the first round of the secondary phase of the June 1966 Draft.

He debuted with the Halos just over two years later, on July 4, 1968, and built himself into a star over next four seasons. Star enough, in fact, that the Dodgers came calling in November 1972, sending Billy Grabarkewitz, Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, Mike Strahler, and Bobby Valentine down the road in exchange for Ken McMullen and Messersmith.

Before he could get out of Anaheim, though, Messersmith made some cardboard appearances in Angels garb.

There were the expected Topps appearances, from 1969 through 1972. There were O-Pee-Chee cards, and even some 1972 Kellogg’s grooviness.

But right alongside that Topps rookie card of his, Messersmith scored another RC in 1969 … a Jack in the Box beauty, nestled right there between Jim McGlothlin and Tom Murphy.

OK, so maybe “beauty” is a bit strong, but it is a very early card of a dude who would become a superstar … and who would change the game forever.

If history is your thing, though, this thing is definitely a beauty, in all it’s black-and-white, blank-backed glory. And if you’re and Andy Messersmith collector, you just can’t do without it.