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Card numbers for commons (a new series?)


While I was basking in the glow of Clayton Kershaw's dazzling performance against the obviously overmatched Brewers on TV last night, I checked the total on the number of cards I have of Kersh in my collection.
It's at 757 now.
Even though I'm a letters guy, numbers bounce around in my brain a lot and that 757 was familiar to me as it relates to card numbers.
For those of us of a certain age, when card numbers meant a lot more than they do now, we memorized quite a few card numbers. And the ones of the stars were the easiest. Those card numbers always ended in a zero or a five, of course.
But then there were oddities like 757. Number 757 sticks in my brain because of this card:

Nolan Ryan is card number 757 in the 1987 Topps set.
In what world do you give Nolan Ryan a card number that doesn't end in a zero? This isn't Mets Ryan. This is 20-year veteran Ryan with thousands of strikeouts and more no-hitters than anyone and a member of the 1986 NLCS runners-up.
But that just goes to show you what kind of gold you can find in a card number that is usually meant for commons.
Other players who have received card number 757 in Topps sets include Willie McGee, Larry Walker and Rob Dibble.
You never know what you're going to find on a card number intended for a common. Even if that player on that card number actually IS a common, sometimes the card actually is not, thanks to the image.
But you'll see what I mean. This might be a recurring series. I'm going to pick a random card number, one that is meant for a common -- meaning it doesn't end in a zero or a five, nor is it something fancy like card No. 1 in the set -- and find the best 12 cards with that card number in my collection. Then I'll show the five best cards with that card number that are not in my collection.
Sound like fun? OK, if it doesn't, you're not reading this anyway, so those who know what's up, let's continue.
The first card number I am selecting is card No. 148.
Why number 148? I told you, it's random. There is no reason. I just chose it and discovered a wonderful world of subjects who land on that number. Here is my top dozen from my collection:
12. 1983 Fleer, Ken Smith, No. 148: This card has interested me for a long time. First Ken Smith is a One-Year Card Wonder. This is his only card from a mass-produced set. And what a wonderful card to have as your only MLB card! I don't know what Smith is doing -- signaling or kicking off a YMCA dance -- but it's super fun.

11. 2019 Topps Update, Gleyber Torres, All-Star Game, No. US148: Say what you will about Topps' hype machine and fawning all over any Yankees youngster, I'm right there with you. I actively don't follow the Yankees because I don't want to be inundated. But it's strange to see a well-known talent like this with such an obscure card number.

10. 1971 Topps John Mayberry, No. 148: John Mayberry was a baseball fixture in my childhood. Not only was he a well-known slugger on a good Royals team, but he was one of my friend's favorite players on his favorite team and I had read a bio on Mayberry around that time that discussed his struggles with the Astros and breakthrough with the Royals. Seems '71 Topps didn't give him any respect either.
9. 2010 Topps Cody Ross, No. 148: Before Cody Ross became that ubiquitous jabberbox of the Giants' World Series teams, he was making pleasing action cards like this. I would end up calling him "the annoying Ross" as he couldn't compare to ex-Dodger and current Cubs manager David Ross.

8. 1981 Fleer Ellis Valentine, No. 148: It's amazing how many of these No. 148 cards I've written about before. I think that's probably because I've been doing this blog so long and also because I do not shy away from cards like this. I have never seen a photo like this on a card. The background is tremendous. I don't know what they did with Valentine's bat but it's possible he didn't even need it, apparently knocking the ball over the wall with his forearm.

7. 1980 Topps Manny Sanguillen, No. 148: Pull a Manny Sanguillen card and your chances of it showing him smiling broadly were better than 50 percent. Also, note that the current Padres have swiped the Pirates uniforms. 


6. 1993 Ted Williams Company Ted Williams, Goin' North subset, No. 148: I've written about this card before, too. I absolutely love it. It's a super-young Williams, full of piss and vinegar. The write-up on the back is fascinating, relaying how his mom used to drum up money for the Salvation Army at games that Williams played.

5. 1991 Topps Rey Palacios, No. 148: Yet another card I've shown before, back in the early, early days of the blog. This is one of those interesting shots that you find in 1991 Topps, but it's even more interesting because it's not of a player everyone knows, like with the Clemens or Santiago or Boggs cards from the set. Did Palacios just get tagged out? Did he slide past the bag and is barely holding on? Or is this some new dance step?

4. 1993 Upper Deck Carlos Hernandez, No. 148: A member of the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame, so you know his card is going to be good. Combine Carlos Hernandez and 1993 Upper Deck together and you've got a memorable card, even at lowly card No. 148.

3. 2009 Topps Chrome Russell Martin, xfractor: Another former Dodgers catcher known for making great cards. The peak of terrific Martin cards was 2008, but 2009 isn't far behind. With small sets like Chrome, your chances of finding a star player on a common number are better.

2. 1970 Topps Earl Weaver, #148: Earl Weaver was fresh off of leading the Orioles to the American League championship and in the middle of leading the Orioles to the World Series championship when this card was issued. But managers -- not even Hall of Fame managers -- get any respect when it comes to rewarding flashy card numbers. That's OK, Team Card No. 148 has one killer manager.


1. 1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski, Rookie Star subset: I swear to you that I did not pick this card number in order to show such a stellar card. I had no idea that the Yaz rookie was No. 148. Why would Yaz -- even rookie Yaz -- be at such a common number? But these are the surprises that turn up when you look into the card numbers for commons. I hope you like this series because I want to continue investigating these numbers.

OK, now for five No. 148 cards that I wish I had, and maybe someday I will.

1. 1976 Topps Walter Payton: Yes, non-baseball cards are included in this exercise. The reason you saw all baseball above is because I have far more baseball cards than anything else. But the 1976 Topps football set is one of the first I saw as a kid (those "Who Am I?" trivia questions on the back really take me back). If I ever try to collect this set, I know No. 148, Payton's rookie card, will be the last one I need.

2. 1971 Topps Speedy Duncan: The most charming card I've seen today. The '71 Topps football design is already delightful and now you're telling me there's a guy named "Speedy" in it? And there is not a thing on this card that lets you know Speedy's real name? I am sold.

3. 1951 Bowman Granny Hamner: Granny Hamner is one of my all-time favorite 1950s baseball names. I like '51 Bowman very much as well. I've seen super-bright versions of this card that look just marvelous, but I'm sure they're way past my budget.

4. 2005-06 Bowman Christie Brinkley: I consider spending 45 years of my life not knowing that there were trading cards of Christie Brinkley one of my biggest mistakes. One of the other ones is I still don't own one of her.

 5. 1940 Play Ball Hugh Casey: Casey is one of the Dodgers' first great relief pitchers and he was at the top of his game in the early '40s. This is his rookie card I believe. It would be one of my best Dodger No. 148s.

OK, so I got all of that out of one pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw. Imagine what I could produce if Kershaw pitched the World Series clincher.

I hope we all get to find out.


EP said…
Young Ted must have had a great swing to generate so much power with that frame.
Angus said…
Love the uniform on the Ellis Valentine card. Those stripes are lined up nicely between the jersey and the pants.
Robert said…
I am a numbers freak. I will look forward to posts with this theme.

757 for Kershaw is a nice number to be at, I look forward to more milestones featuring the great lefty.
Nick Vossbrink said…
Honestly surprised you don't have any Brinkley cards since there's that whole Pinnacle insert set she shot and is featured on the backs of all of them.
kcjays said…
Fun topic! I love that Ted Williams card. I will always regret not getting his auto at a card show in St. Louis, late 80’s? At the time I just couldn’t justify spending the $30 + $7 for an American League baseball.
bryan was here said…
What a fun post! Kenny Smith's nickname was "Highrise" and he's from Youngstown, Ohio, where I'm at right now. Never realized there were so many neat cards at #148!

Speedy Duncan's real name is Leslie. Sorry to ruin it for you, but he does have a card as Leslie in the '68 set.
Johngy said…
Interesting concept.
Grant said…
I really like the Ellis Valentine in the rain card. The rain jackets in the background make it pop. I also dig that card of a handsome, young Ted Williams in a super rad Minneapolis Millers jersey. I'll have to pick that on eup.
Chris said…
This was really interesting, I saw a lot of cards that were new to me (Ken Smith, Ellis Valentine) and some I'd long forgotten (like Palacios) At first I thought that you're probably familiar with every card ever, then had to amend that to every baseball card ever re:Brinkley. I didn't know she was hiding in NBA sets until a couple years ago, but I immediately snagged her 2005-06 Topps card.
Fuji said…
Cool idea for a series. I had fun over on COMC looking to see if any of the guys I PC were #148 in any sets. Discovered more than a handful... but the 1992 Bowman Greg Maddux was my favorite.

Over the summer, I picked up one of those Brinkleys on Sportlots along with a few of the other ladies in the set and Jay-Z. Wish I had know that you wanted one, I would have added an extra to my order. I'll keep you in mind the next time I place a SL order.

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