For the first time, I can see which cards are up for contention as THE best Dodger card ever made. The list is down to 20 cards and after selecting cards 20 through 11, I now know what is left.
You may have thought that I had already picked out the best card. Nope. Time is too valuable to carve out an hour or two to rank all 100 cards at once. Instead, I ranked them section by section, ignoring the best of the best until their turn came up.
But now that I see what's left, I've got some big deciding to do.
Yet, on the plus side, all of these cards are so good that I have featured them all on the blog at one time or another and therefore ... NO SCANNING.
Time-savers are my favorite thing in life.
So, focus your attention on these 10, tremendous, already scanned Dodger cards:
20. Frank Robinson, 1972 Topps, traded subset
I'll start with a couple of all-time greats who spent just a brief period of time with the Dodgers in the early 1970s. Frank Robinson played for the team in 1972, and this is his only Topps card in which he's featured as a Dodger (outside of the whited-out '73 card). Seeing Robinson as a Dodger is fantastic fun, and the TRADED stamp is both comical and semi-alarming, adding to the impact of this card. One of my all-time favorite card show pick-ups.
19. Rich Allen, 1971 Topps
The 1971 Topps high numbers set is filled with gems like this. You never know what you're going to find in the high numbers. Hatless dudes. Cartoon caps. Players with teams that you never knew they were on. Dick Allen falls into the latter category. Outside of Allen's Topps Super card from the same year (which I need to get some day), this the only evidence of Allen as a Dodger on a Topps card. And you have to love the Dodger Stadium backdrop.
18. Gil Hodges, 1954 Topps
Gil Hodges was at his absolute prime in 1954, the peak of a seven-year run in which he drove in at least 100 runs each season. I'm not a huge fan of the 1954 set, but this is my favorite Hodges card. The man is baseball, and he deserves to be ranked this high.
17. Mike Piazza, 1992 Bowman
It's saying a lot when a common-variety base card from the early 1990s is difficult to obtain. I had a devil of a time acquiring Mike Piazza's Bowman rookie card. It's one of the all-time great rookie cards, and you see it displayed with pride a lot more often than Piazza's Fleer Update rookie of the same year, which is also difficult to obtain and a card I still need. But the Bowman card is far better than the Fleer version.
16. Kirk Gibson, 1989 Upper Deck, World Series subset
Topps flat-out ignored the Dodgers' World Series title in 1981 and did the same in 1988. It ignored the Dodgers' NLCS appearances in 1983 and 1985, too. This is all stuff it would have recognized in the '70s. So, along came Upper Deck in 1989 and recognized one of the greatest home runs ever hit in its debut set. That should have won me over to Upper Deck automatically. Unfortunately, I had been brainwashed by Topps long ago.
15. Pee Wee Reese, 1957 Topps
The "highest-debuting" card in the countdown. I received this Pee Wee Reese card more than halfway into the countdown. That means I had to knock a card off of the countdown to fit in this item. Which card did I eliminate? You'll never know.
14. Duke Snider, 1957 Topps
Back-to-back '57 cards of players on the last Brooklyn team to make the World Series. This is one of the first '57 Dodger cards I ever obtained, snared when my father's co-worker left us a bunch of cards from the '50s. This card was sweet redemption for what happened to my '51 Topps red-back Snider.
13. Johnny Podres, 1956 Topps
I did the same thing with this card that I did with the Sandy Amoros card -- waffled between the '55 and '56 version to determine which one was better. This time I went with the 1956 card. Even though the '55 card is great because you would have owned that card when Podres was pitching his Game 7 shutout against the Yankees to finally win the Bums the pennant -- and the reason why I picked the Amoros card -- I just think the '56 Podres card is vastly better.
Here's the '55 card, so can all critique yourself.
Some of you are going to like the '55 one better, probably because of the Dodger logo. But it's my countdown, chaps and chapettes. The '56 card rules.
12. Ron Cey, 1975 Topps
This is my favorite card of all-time. My favorite card from my first year of collecting, the most frequently shown card on the blog, just my favorite. It's got everything going for it. The colorful '75 design. The terrific all-star star. Cey's mustache, long hair and batting helmet. The gleaming, empty Dodger Stadium stands in the background. It's the card I'd pull out if someone said, "show me why you collect cards."
So why is this card only 12 on the list?
That's how tough this list is to crack. We ain't talking about the Diamondbacks here.
11. Sandy Koufax, 1961 Topps
I didn't want to let autographs and pieces of clothing get in the way of why a card was ranked on this list. I wanted it to be about just the card. But some managed to work their way onto the list anyway. And this is the first autographed card I ever purchased. It's a great one. There's no way to tell if the signature is truly real, unless I sent it to one of those authentication places. But it sure looks like Sandy's signature. And the card keeps me from moaning every time Topps announces a new Koufax autograph card that peons like me will never find. So, you've got to love it.
That's another card I'm sure some can't believe isn't in the Top 10, but I couldn't let the signature completely sway where I ranked it.
And that means all that's left are 10 more cards.
I still have no idea what will be No. 1.