(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:
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.
Thanks for posting.