Armour: The Great Topps Baseball Card Monopoly: grey backs

From SABR member Mark Armour at The National Pastime Museum on May 26, 2016:

Topps began naming an All-Star rookie team in 1959 and has been doing so ever since. For many of these years, they designated these honorees the following year by putting a trophy on their card. I always thought this was a great feature of the card set, partly because the trophies were always a bit of a surprise—in the days before ESPN and the Internet, we had no knowledge who Topps had named. I wasn’t surprised by Carlton Fisk’s 1973 trophy—he had won the Rookie of the Year Award, but it was a bit more fun to see the trophy on Bobby Cox’s 1969 card. He had hit .229 the year before, and by the time this card came out he had already lost, permanently, his starting position. In fact, this would be his one and only card as a player, years before he began his Hall of Fame managerial career.

Many star players had a trophy on their first solo card, including Tom Seaver (1968), Johnny Bench (1969), and Gary Carter (1976). Often (as for each of these three) this is the player’s second card—the previous year Topps might have included him on a Rookie Stars card with a couple of other players, which really only served notice that “this guy might be good.” As a Red Sox fan I recall the excitement of Mike Nagy’s trophy on his 1970 card, even though I kind of knew that he was not going to be Tom Seaver. I was not fooled by Doug Griffin’s hardware on his 1972 card either.

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Originally published: May 26, 2016. Last Updated: May 26, 2016.