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C.A.: 1956 Topps William Harridge and Warren Giles

 (Greetings on another snowy day outside my window. Often at this time of year, as the snowblowers hum in the streets, I switch on the Australian Open telecast and remind myself it's summer somewhere. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 318th in a series):

I haven't posted hardly at all about the 1956 Topps set since I completed it almost two years ago. The most recent post specifically mentioning '56 Topps cards was in May of 2021 -- one month after completing the set -- with a couple cards I found at a flea market.

I don't like that I haven't mentioned them much. That '56 binder is pretty much the crown jewel of the collection and it's the only binder where when I open it I am blown away by the cards in it. I own these? When did that happen?

So I thought I'd return to the set ... with what are probably the two most unimpressive cards in it.

Topps weirdly devoted cards to the American and National League presidents during the back half of the 1950s, starting in 1956. There are also league presidents cards in '57, '58 and '59 Topps.

There are many examples in 1950s sets of how this was very a different time, as I guess it would be since it's more than 65 years ago. But I think league president cards to start off a set clinches it.
What kid knew who the league presidents were? What were their reactions to pulling a card like this? Cards were issued in 1956 in six-card packs at 5 cents apiece. But they were also issued in 1-cent, 1-card packs. I'm fairly certain that for the kid who bought a one-cent pack and pulled a William Harridge his day was ruined.
It's also a strange way to kick off a set. Two "old" dudes, on the only vertical cards in the set (excluding the unnumbered checklists) in complete contrast to the rest of the set.
The Warren Giles card was one of the '56 cards that my brothers and I received from my dad's co-worker when my dad came home with the brown shopping bag of mid-1950s cards back when I was a teen. My reaction to that Giles card I'm sure was more reserved than those kids who pulled him out of packs in '56, but I certainly was perplexed by it.
They are admittedly nicely done cards but placed amid the action-packed player cards they might as well be from another set.
If the gray hair on a couple of guys from the mid-1950s doesn't convince you how long ago these cards were issued, check out the back:

(One gray back and one white back).
I've only half-joked that a 16-team Major League Baseball league is ideal, but I didn't realize until the instant I viewed these backs, probably for the first time, how few teams that is. They actually had to space out the logos with words between them!
The write-ups on each are purely PR. Harridge's service is "outstanding" and he's a "guiding spirit" who has received the "well-earned respect" of, well, just about everyone. Giles is a "leading authority" of "our Great American Sport."
If you look at the back of Giles' 1960 Fleer card the bio is slightly more objective. 

The bios also underline just how long ago this was. Harridge started working in MLB in 1911!!! Giles served in World War ONE!

It's also interesting that during this time when Topps was recognizing league presidents that it didn't feature a card of the Baseball Commissioner, Ford Frick, until the 1959 set.

I wouldn't blame kids back in '56 if they tried to complete the set that year but ignored the first two cards. However, that set wouldn't be complete would it? They may be the dullest cards in the set, but every card tells a story.

I'll try to get to more '56 cards in the future, maybe not at the pace of my previous '56 Of The Month posts, but I'll come up with something. That two-year anniversary of possibly my greatest hobby achievement is coming up, you know.


Chris said…
I'm dreading getting close enough to completing this set that I have to spend significant amounts of money on these two cards and the two checklists. Actually the checklists might be more interesting.
I only have 73 cards from the set so far and 14 of them must be upgraded. I'm a long way from completing this one.
Old Cards said…
Can't believe it has been that long ago since you completed the 56 set. I remember being concerned about you landing the Mantle card. You know, Topps could have made horizontal cards for these 2 guys with an action picture in the background of them sitting at their desks doing paperwork!
Jeremya1um said…
I’m glad you reminded me about those 2 cards. I believe Topps Heritage did a reprint of those cards back when they did the ‘56 set for that year and I think I have both of them. I’d like to see Commissioners and League Presidents get cards again, although I don’t think Manfred deserves a card unless it goes straight into a shredder.
bryan was here said…
The main purpose for those cards back then was to put in the bicycle spokes.
Fuji said…
Yeah... not the greatest looking card fronts in the most gorgeous card set ever produced. But the card backs are really nice with all of the team names and logos.
Nick Vossbrink said…
Really wish Topps had found a way to make these horizontal so they at least seem like part of the same set.
Paul Theisen said…
I've been a baseball fan all my life (born 1963) but don't even remember who were the league Prez back in the 1970s and 80s. Just the commissioner. I completed (but a few cards left to find) this set in the 1990s before eBay came along. Got a very nice Mantle in June 1993, right before I got married. Wasn't sure if the wife was going to let me keep spending on cards after we got married! Turns out she would even go to the shows with me until kids came along.

Thanks for posting.
The Turrdog said…
For Hall of Fame collectors, both of these cards (and the ones in '57, '58, and '59) are must haves.