Saturday, January 15, 2011
Card back countdown: #17 - 1957 Topps
I have completely butchered my timeline for this series, so I've decided to go at my own leisurely pace, which is how things should be done anyway. You can expect the No. 1 card back to be displayed sometime around the next presidential election. We'll all need the diversion anyway.
Now, it's time for card back #17 and my thoughts and feelings about '57 Topps. Yeah, I know. You can click off to another blog now. I hear there's a contest going on somewhere.
I always wondered what collectors thought when they opened their first packs of '57 Topps. The cards were much smaller than they were the previous five years. Did collectors think they were getting cheated?
Perhaps the arrival of actual real photos in the set balanced out any issues with the smaller size. That had to be a plus.
But what about the back?
The backs looked a lot different than card backs in the previous Topps sets. They were more "serious." The cartoon took up only a small corner of the card, as opposed to half the acreage available in previous sets. The '57 backs were less colorful. Very gray. They were still factual, but less fun.
Like many Topps sets to come, the cartoon grew or shrunk depending on the number of years of stats the player had accumulated in his career.
If a player was a veteran with several awesome years of experience, the cartoon disappeared. That is never a good thing.
However, it is also the reason why this card set is so high on the countdown.
It is the first time that Topps provided complete career stats on the backs of its cards. It's hard to imagine a time when there weren't complete stats on the back of cards -- although Upper Deck has tried and tried to make collectors forget that. But this had to amaze collectors in 1957.
I've read stories about what a difficult time Topps and Sy Berger had with obtaining stats for its first legitimate set, in 1952. And that was for a single year of stats. I wonder what changed between then and '57 that allowed Topps to print full career statistics. Sure, it had five years of obtaining stats under its belt, but that doesn't account for the years when Topps didn't exist, like 1949 and 1950.
Complete stats is a given in the Topps base set to this day. I think there'd be an uprising if that disappeared. That trend has 1957 Topps to thank.
By the way, I suppose you Braves fans noticed the '57 Bill Bruton card up top. You want it? Well, first, you have to acknowledge the greatness of Sandy and Don. And then it'll cost you. You've got to scare up a nice vintagey '50s Dodger in exchange. Preferably one that looks as nice as Mr. Bruton.
Best of the set:
Even though the '57 Mays is in my collection, I'm a Dodger fan:
Willie, Mickey and the Duke. They saved the best for last.
(previous card back countdown selections):
50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total
37. 1992 Topps
36. 1992 Donruss
35. 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
34. 1963 Fleer
33. 1955 Bowman
32. 2006 Topps
31. 1961 Topps
30. 1955 Topps
29. 1967 Topps
28. 1970 Topps
27. 1969 Topps
26. 1966 Topps
25. 1963 Topps
24. 1911 T205
23. 1962 Topps
22. 1981 Topps
21. 1981 Donruss
20. 1958 Topps
19. 1977 Topps
18. 1974 Topps