Sunday, May 1, 2016
'56 of the month: Jackie Robinson
Trotting out one of 1956's big guns for a brief post.
As you know, 1956 Topps features action shots as the backdrop on many of its cards. It's one of the key elements of the greatest set ever made. And that element is the most mysterious aspect of the set.
That's because the plays on the front are not captioned. If you want to figure out the who, what, when, where and why of those action depictions, you have to do the work yourself.
Many people have. And many bloggers have. I have.
More than five years ago, I addressed the action shot on this card:
I determined that this was an illustration of Jackie Robinson stealing home against the Cardinals and catcher Bill Sarni on August 29, 1955. I mentioned that the play was part of a triple steal by the Dodgers. But now I'm not so sure.
Let's return to the Robinson card.
The illustration on this card has been examined by several people in the past. Most recently by The Chronicles of Fuji. He and the others who have studied the card have come to the same conclusion:
The play on the Robinson card, which shows Robinson, Sarni and pitcher Johnny Podres standing with the bat, is from August 29, 1955. It's the same play that I came up with for the Sarni card.
At first I thought that couldn't be right. The pictures don't look exactly the same. Sarni is in full tag mode on his card, but on the Robinson card it looks like Robinson beat the throw and the tag by a lot.
Fuji very clearly demonstrated proof that the Robinson action was from that date because he found a picture of the play from that date that Topps colorized to create the masterpiece that you see on Robinson's card.
However, they both pictures could still be from the same play. It's possible that the Robinson picture comes a few seconds after the Sarni picture. As I mentioned, there was a triple steal going on. It's possible that Sarni is gathering up the ball, after tagging Robinson, and preparing to throw to second base in an attempt to get Sandy Amoros stealing second. (Sarni threw to second, and then Gil Hodges, who stole third, attempted to advance home on the play and was tagged out by Sarni).
There are still nagging questions though. Like why does it appear that Sarni is wearing his catcher's mask on the Robinson card and not on the Sarni card, if the illustration on the Robinson card came after the one on the Sarni card.
So I'm not sure about the picture on the Sarni card now. And I'm not certain they were the same play.
But if they were, what did Topps have against Bill Sarni?
There's the back to the Robinson card, because I show the card backs in this series.
That's enough studying for today. Next up on '56 of the Month: more Dodgers appearing on other people's cards.