Choose The Greatest Baseball Cards of All Time

Dubya and the Mick watch Jeter winning the 2006 Gold Glove.

Topps wants your vote to determine their 60 greatest cards of all time. No write-ins, though — they’ve preselected a field of 100 candidates.

There will probably be controversy/grumbling about the cards up for consideration. What makes a baseball card “great” is pretty personal. Market price might be one objective index of greatness, and I imagine many of the highest-priced vintage Topps cards are among the finalists here.

However, knowing basically nothing about baseball cards, I’m just going with my gut. Some notes in preparing my ballot:

1. 1985 Roger Clemens: Imagine Roger Clemens isn’t wearing his cap in this photo, and that instead of his jersey he’s wearing a jacket and tie. Freeze that in your mind. That insincere half-smile, with the hands-on-hips pose, is what I look like in all photos taken of me at weddings.

2. Topps used the same headshots for Roberto Clemente in 1955 and 1956 (also Ted Williams), but Sandy Koufax got a fresh picture in ’56. What gives?

3. 1961 Roger Maris: Roger Maris, the man, has a shirt collar sticking out from underneath his jersey on one side only, and he’s wearing a facial expression that is sinister, but in the same moment, kind of sleepy, and his head is bursting out of a newspaper article, and that article is about Roger Maris, public icon. An evasive portrait of two different men, joining paths at an historical and personal crossroads.

That’s just what I thought when I looked at that one.

4. Baseball card collectors really enjoy collecting Mickey Mantle baseball cards. He’s the protagonist of a whopping 16 of the 100 cards.

5. Extending the above thought: This baseball card pantheon seems to honor players that captured fans’ imaginations, and it probably does so more accurately and honestly (or at least differently) than lists of statistical leaders or Hall of Fame inductees. Who are the players with the highest deltas between fan inspiration and on-field accomplishment? Jose Canseco, Bo Jackson, and Fisk/Munson come to mind.

H/T: ESPN Page 2’s Chris Olds.

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The Derek Jeter card above is great because there seems to be a one-armed man wearing a suit in the background.


Who also looks like… G W Bush????????