Tuesday, September 23, 2014

That classic season

Today is the first full day of fall. Fall means a lot of things, especially here in the Northeast. Leaves changing (yes, it's already begun), the furnace kicks on (yup, that, too), apple pie (yum) and hockey (I told you, it's the Northeast).

But there is really only one true highlight of the fall and that is the World Series.

The World Series is the first thing that I think of when someone mentions the fall. And it's appropriate that the primary nickname for the World Series is the "Fall Classic". (This is an example of using the wonderful word "classic" properly. Don't muddy up such a great word by using it to dress up your fly-by-night high school basketball tournament).

We're still a number of weeks away from the Fall Classic, but the seasonal change has put me in the mood for the postseason. And to prepare for the upcoming festivities, I pulled out 10 classic cards of the Fall Classic.

These are all from my collection and they're all from a long time ago. Because a World Series card from 2011 Heritage just wouldn't be classic now would it?

There is no order to these. Just enjoy with the knowledge that this kind of excitement is coming soon. Provided it's not the Angels vs. the Giants, of course:

1963 World Series (1964 Topps): Koufax strikes out 15

Try to find an action card of Sandy Koufax from his playing career. They barely exist. This is probably the most memorable. It's a beautiful close-up look at Koufax preparing to unleash a pitch against a defenseless Yankee hitter. I have no idea why some people in the stands aren't paying attention.

1971 World Series (1972 Topps): Game No. 6

When do you ever see a catcher leaping in the air like he's a shortstop turning a double play? Almost never. Catchers are trained to remain rooted in the ground, the better to field a missile and brace for a locomotive at the same time. This appears to be Manny Sanguillen leap-frogging Frank Robinson, who is sliding in with the winning run in the 10th on a sacrifice fly by Brooks Robinson.

1974 World Series (1975 Topps): Game 2

A classic card only to me (and other Dodgers fans). It features the only game the Dodgers won in this World Series. But it is the first time I ever saw a greeting at the dugout on a baseball card. To me, it is the most memorable dugout celebration of all-time. And I've tried to identify everyone in this photo innumerable times since 1975.

 1977 World Series (1978 Topps): Reggie & Yankees reign supreme

You have to take the bad with the good when you're a fan. The Dodgers, who mirror life perhaps better than any other team (the peaks and valleys in this team's history are epic), made me realize this at a young age. I hate this card. But, yes, it's a classic. And now I want to cut my fingers off for typing that.

1968 World Series (1969 Topps): Gibson fans 17; sets new record!

There has never been a World Series subset executed finer than the '68 Series set in 1969 Topps. I've babbled about this before. A near-perfect rendering of Gibson's Game 1 feat to kick off the subset. I would be proud of this layout myself. The card would have been perfect except that every record is new, mr. headline writer.

1980 World Series (1981 Topps): Phillies win first World Series

There aren't a lot of World Series cards that capture THE moment of the Series. Sure, Tug McGraw's celebration had nothing to do with actually winning the World Series. But it was the moment that you saw over and over when the Phillies won. So, good for Topps for capturing this. Bad for Topps in that it dropped World Series subsets right after this one and didn't pick them back up for a loooooong time.

1959 World Series (1960 Topps): The champs celebrate

Beer on a baseball card. Find me another example that is so apparent.

1973 World Series (1974 Topps): Game 2

There are few examples of Willie Mays as a Met on a baseball card. Sure, there's the 1973 Topps base card, but not much else (issued during the '70s anyway). There is a reason why this card will cost you more than just about any other World Series card from the 1970s.

1970 World Series (1971 Topps): B. Robinson commits robbery!

The '71 Topps World Series cards are my favorites. Bright colors on dark frame surrounding an action photo. It's like watching a movie in a darkened theater. And because the action is so far away (and not cropped at all), it's both awe-inspiring and comical.

1975 World Series (1976 Topps): Reds champs! First time since 1940

Topps picked a bad time to cut back on its World Series subset. For the first time since 1966, there wasn't an individual card for every World Series game. That cost every collector a game-by-game review of one of the most memorable World Series ever played. Fortunately, Topps was able to squeeze most of the moments onto one card. That's Carlton Fisk in the top left corner, although not after his Game 6 home run because he practically had the uniform stripped off of him while rounding the bases after that one. That's Tony Perez in the top right corner, hopefully trotting around the bases after hitting a two-run home run off of Bill Lee during Game 7. That's Luis Tiant, at the bottom right, who baffled the Reds in Game 1 with a five-hit shutout. And that's Pete Rose, the World Series MVP, in the bottom left.

So that's just some of the great World Series cards from a classic time period. There are even more classic Fall Classic cards that I didn't show here.

But I suppose it's time to have yesteryear step aside so the teams of 2014 can make new World Series memories.

I'm rooting for Dodgers vs. Orioles.

Somebody needs to get payback for 1966.


  1. Dodgers vs Orioles? I'll take that. (Anyone vs Orioles would be OK by me.)

    I'm right with you on the '69 Topps subset for the '68 Series. It thought it was genius.

  2. I also love the 69 subset, and not because I am a Tiger fan. I was disappointed when there were no world series cards in 79 or 80. Don't forget that the Mays card features his last hit, ever.

  3. Have to agree the 69 subset is great. Love the Koufax action shot

  4. The robbery card he looks to be all alone in the middle of a sand ocean! What a card!

  5. When I lived in the northeast the seasons were: Spring (started when spring training opened); Summer (started the first day of the baseball season); Fall (started when the baseball playoffs started); Winter (started the first day I had to scrape ice off my windshield in the morning). I live in southeast Texas now, so there usually are only three season (no winter).