Thursday, January 15, 2009

Awesome night card, pt. 17

Now the moment you've all been waiting for: This is my favorite "night card."

It's Stan Williams pictured against a pitch-black background but illuminated by the bank of lights peaking out from the top right corner of the photo. Combine that with the flashy 1972 Topps design (blue is my favorite color and the color scheme they chose for the Cardinals that year makes the St. Louis cards among my favorites from '72 -- a lot better than that yellow-orange puke color they picked for the Dodgers) and this is a card that I could feature just as easily on "Cardboard Appreciation." I like it that much.

But another reason why it's my favorite night card is because whenever I see this card I wonder whether it is (cue the trumpets) THE FIRST NIGHT CARD EVER MADE.

I don't really have any knowledge on this, and there are an awful lot of cards from the 1960s and 1970 that I have never seen, so what you're going to read for the next few paragraphs is nothing but speculation (and you know how I feel about speculation. I hate it with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns).

My hunch is the first photograph taken at night to appear on a baseball card was probably during the early 1970s. Before the early '70s, there was just no reason to take night photographs. The camera technology didn't allow for anything decent, and there just wasn't a reason to -- spring training games featured abundant sunshine and perfect photo opportunities. And even during the season, plenty of games were played during the day.

But in 1971, the first night World Series game was played in Game 4, between the Pirates and the Orioles. And that led us to where we are today, a world operating (and posting) at night.

So I'm thinking, the '72 Topps set could feature the first night cards. There are several cards of the '71 Series in the set, including one of Game 4.

Of course, Williams and the Cardinals didn't play in the '71 World Series. So I'm not sure what the situation was that led Topps to use a photograph taken at night. And I'm not sure if such a situation happened before the '72 set. But unless anyone tells me otherwise (and please do, because if there are earlier ones, I must have them), I'm saying that the 1972 Stan Williams card is the first "night card" of a player.

That knocks Williams up a few notches in my book. Because we Dodger fans can't think of Williams and not think of 1962.

I wasn't around back then, but I can only imagine the agony/homicidal thoughts felt by my fellow Dodgerians when Williams walked in the winning run during the decisive game of a three-game playoff against the (gasp, wheez) Giants for the right to advance to the World Series.

But that's OK. The Giants lost the World Series to the Yankees anyway. And the Dodgers reached the World Series the following year and SWEPT the Yankees. Sweet!

All is forgiven, Stan. But only because you have that great night card.


  1. That right there is one sweet night card!

  2. Actually, there is at least one night card in the 1953 Topps set. I'll see if I can dig it up and post it today.

  3. There are a couple of night cards in the 1969 set, too.

  4. Regardless of whether or not it is the first one, it is a really interesting discussion to start. I would have suspected that it was around the 1972 set perhaps 71 since it had action shots. I am lookin fwd to seeing that '53 if Dayf can dig it up.

  5. Greg--
    You've never posted about this card, have you?

  6. Nope, Andy, I haven't yet. But it, and a few others from the '88 set are on the list. That was a pretty good year for night cards.

  7. I found 'em. I'm going to post it tonight (when else?) in your honor.

  8. In the 1969 set, it was #338 Del Unser. I will post it over at Wrigley Wax.

  9. Thanks guys, that's great. Saw the '69 card. Can't wait for the '53.