Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Very First Topps All-Stars!

I can remember opening packs of 1987 and 1990 Topps baseball as a kid and getting excited when I landed a card from the All-Star subset.  It meant that you had pulled a card of one of the game's best, that your pack was a success.  So, when I got back into collecting a few years ago I decided to chase the 1958 Topps All-Star subset.

1958 was the inaugural year for the All-Star subset, with the final 21 cards of the flagship set (cards #475-495) devoted to Sport Magazine All-Stars.  All in all, the set featured 10 AL players, 10 NL players, and a coaches card.  The design, as you can see on the Eddie Matthews card above, is pretty basic but classic in my opinion.  The color scheme of red (AL) and blue (NL) backgrounds is fitting, to me these are everything that great 1950s baseball cards should be.

I decided to try for this subset for a couple of reasons.  First, the historical significance of the subset.  After this first release in 1958, Topps would include All-Star subsets in its next 4 flagship sets, through 1962.  There weren't any All-Star cards from 1963-1967, but then they came back in many (though not all) Topps sets after that.  Secondly, this set seemed attainable.  Just 21 cards on the checklist, and even the Hall-of-Famers can be had for a relatively good price compared to many of their other cards from the '50s.

Anyway, I've been working away at this one since 2007, sometimes focused on it, other times not picking up a card or even thinking about it for a year or more.  Recently I landed the final card I needed though, #486 Willie Mays.  Here are all 21...

The subset starts off with the All-Star Managers, featuring Casey Stengel and Fred Haney.  Casey is the first of many Hall-of-Famers featured...
The first NL card is none other than Stan Musial.  This card is significant because it's the first time that Musial ever appeared on a Topps card!  Apparently he agreed to do so based on Topps' contribution to a charity.
Moose Skowron may not be in the Hall-of-Fame, but the long-time Yankee was an 8x All-Star and 5x World Series Champ.

Johnny was a solid second baseman and lead-off hitter. He's a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall-of-Fame.

Nellie is in the Hall-of-Fame, but not thanks to the BBWAA.  He never got the 75% of the vote needed from that group (came tantalizingly close at 74.7%), but the Veteran's Committee righted that wrong and elected him in 1997.  All I have to say is that that is one of the highest-worn hats I've ever seen in my life.

As of now, Mathews is one of only 25 guys to club 500+ career home runs.  I'm not sure what is going on with his eyebrows on this card though.

Frank Malzone is one of three Red Sox players featured in this set.

Ernie was one of the first cards I picked up from this set, way back in January of 2008.  I've always liked Banks and have found him to be a sympathetic figure.  How can you not like a guy who played over 2,500 games, clubbed over 500 home runs, won back to back MVPs, yet never sniffed the post-season?  I've been casually poking away at his run of Topps cards from his 1954 rookie through his final 1971 card for some time now.  I'm only missing a handful now, but unfortunately one of those is the '54 rookie.  This card in particular is cool because Banks was the NL MVP in 1958.

If you're counting, we're up to 6 Hall-of-Famers at this point.  Luis was lightning fast, could hit, field well (9x Gold Glove winner) and steal bases.  He was one of the premier shortstops of his era.  The next 5 cards are really the meat and potatoes of this subset though...

Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove winner, World Series champion, World Series MVP, All-Star Game MVP, AL MVP, NL MVP, 9th all-time with 586 career home runs.  What more can you say?
This is the only vintage Ted Williams card that I own (I don't count his 1971 Topps Senators coach card).  I really need to make it a point to add another to my collection.

Willie was the final card I needed to finish off the set.  He just arrived in the mail a couple of weeks back...

This is my only vintage Mickey Mantle card.  If you are looking for a vintage Mantle on the cheap, this is a good option.  Even in a PSA 6 you can sometimes find these for under $100.  If you're not strict on condition you can find them for under $50.

What a run of cards.  The last 5 guys are all Hall-of-Famers, all members of the 500+ Home Run club, and are 5 of the best outfielders to ever play Major League Baseball.  I think Hank Aaron's card may be my favorite.

Jackie was actually the 1958 American League MVP!

Bailey was elected an All-Star numerous times, and is regarded as one of the top backstops of his day.

Lollar enjoyed a fine season in 1958, belting 20 Home Runs and 84 RBI in just 127 games played for the White Sox.

Friend won 22 games in 1958, good for a tie for first in the NL with Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves.

In addition to being elected an All-Star in 1958, Turley's 21 wins earned him the Cy Young Award (only a single award was given out for both leagues before 1966).  Oh yeah, the Yankees also won the World Series, and Bullet Bob was elected World Series MVP.  Not a bad season right there.

Spahn had an amazing season in 1958, and had separate Cy Young awards existed for each league then as they do now, he would have garnered some consideration for the NL award for sure.

The final card in the subset, and the final card in the 1958 Topps flagship set, is Herb Score.  Score looked amazing when he broke into the league as a youngster in 1955.  He struck out 245 in his rookie year, a record that stood until 1984.  His second year was even more impressive, as Herb went 20-9 with a 2.53 ERA, and 16 complete games.  He also threw more shutouts (5), and had more strikeouts (263), than anyone else in the league that year.  Unfortunately, the following season he caught a brutal line drive to the face.  He was never the same pitcher, and after suffering a couple of additional injuries his career came to an end with 4 appearances for the White Sox in 1962.

So there you have it, the very first Topps All-Star subset.  There really is something for almost everyone within these 21 cards.  It was fun putting this together and extremely rewarding to finally have it completed.  Now that I'm done with these I think I'll shift my focus back to my 1953 Topps set for a bit...

1 comment:

night owl said...

Great set to complete!

I think those are the saving grace of '58 Topps, which isn't a very pretty set in my view.

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