Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Decade of Topps Baseball, 1951 - 1959

As the 2011 season draws to a close, let's look back at Topps first full decade of set production, the 1950s. They tinkered with sports as early as 1948 (Magic Photos set profile), but 1951 ushered in their unbroken run of baseball-only cards that continues to the present.

There were many fewer teams in 1951, just 16 total spread across 10 cities. New York (3), Chicago (2), Boston (2), St. Louis (2), and Philadelphia (2) hosted multiple teams and 1950s Topps #5s pulled players from just four: New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. (Click through each card to read its set profile.)

1951 Topps Blue Backs #5, Johnny Pesky

60 years later, Johnny Pesky still works for the Red Sox. Amazing.

1951 Topps Red Backs #5, Phil Rizzuto

Scooter at his best, in 1950's MVP season.

1952 Topps #5, Larry Jansen

Larry's counting his seven children.

1953 Topps #5, Joe Dobson

Like the painted clouds and skies in this set in spite of myself. Kind of Bob Ross-y.

1954 Topps #5, Ed Lopat

"D. M." added by young collector. Dungeon Master? Dirty Money? Double Moonpie?

1955 Topps #5, Jim Gilliam

A patient man at the dish, Junior Gilliam walked 100 times (!) in his 1953 Rookie of the Year campaign. 2011's NL leader (Joey Votto) only had 110.

1956 Topps #5, Ted Williams

One of my favorite-ever cards. But is Ted hitting a pop-up?

1957 Topps #5, Sal Maglie

Sal "the Barber" Maglie, but not the kind you want close shaves from.

1958 Topps #5, Willie Mays

First year after moving to San Francisco, Willie led the league in runs, steals, and on-base-plus-slugging (OPS). Finished second in MVP to Ernie Banks, who hit 47 homers. Award voters dig the long ball.

1959 Topps #5, Dick Donovan

Always thought of 1959's circle-inset photos as the "James Bond" set. It just needs a crosshairs and some silhouetted ladies.


night owl said...

Great cards. How many people did it take to make the Larry Jansen card look like THAT?

Matthew Glidden said...

No doubt, that Larry Jensen looks like at least 7 kids had their hands on it!