There are numerous issues with being a "Baby Boomer". From hip replacements to rotator cuff surgeries to short-term memory loss, life can be a challenge. One of the real advantages, however, is that we lived through the golden age of baseball. And one of the long-term memories is opening that wax pack of baseball cards and taking in the aroma of the bubble gum. If you have the privilege of looking through an album containing a 1956 Topps set, every 8-pocket plastic page brings back a recollection from your yout
1956 was an important year for collectors because the Topps Company had bought out Bowman Gum and became the exclusive producer of major league baseball cards...a monopoly they kept until 1981. On our last visit, we reviewed the '56 cards of over 30 Hall of Fame players, but this time we'll delve into some of the other 300+ players and teams that also have a story to tell. Current values are based on cards in "Excellent" (EX 5) condition.
#6 Ray Boone, Tigers 3B ($10) - The patriarch of a three-generation baseball family...he's the dad of Bob and grandfather of Bret & Aaron
#14 Ken Boyer, Cardinals 3B ($15) - His brothers Clete & Cloyd were also major league players in the 1950's
#25 Ted Kluszewski, Reds 1B ($20) - "Klu" was one of the most feared hitters in baseball...had 47 HR's in '55 and led the NL in intentional walks
#35 Al Rosen, Indians 3B ($15) - "Flip" was the AL MVP in 1953 and in the 70's & 80's was President of the Yankees, Astros and Giants
#42 Sandy Amoros, Dodgers OF ($15) - Will always be remembered for that classic catch in the 7th game of the '55 World Series against the Yankees
#69 Chuck Tanner, Braves OF ($10) - Eventually became a big league manager and led the Pirates to their 1979 championship
#99 Don Zimmer, Dodgers 2B ($15) - A player, coach and manager for over 50 years...one of the great characters of the game
#115 Jackie Jensen, Red Sox OF ($12) - An outstanding player, he was also an All-American in football at the University of California
#125 Minnie Minoso, White Sox OF ($15) - The "Cuban Comet" was one of the most exciting players in the game and a fan favorite
#145 Gil Hodges, Dodgers 1B ($35) - Another member of the "Boys of Summer", he also led the Miracle Mets to the championship as their manager in 1969
#162 Gus Bell, Reds OF ($10) - Another three-generation MLB family started with this flyhawk...he's the dad of Buddy and grandfather of David & Mike...in '55, he played all 154 games and produced 27 HR's, 104 RBI's & a .308 BA
#181 Billy Martin, Yankees 2B-SS ($40) - This feisty and combative player later became the Yankee manager...multiple times
#219 Lew Burdette, Braves P ($15) - Won over 200 games in his career and beat the Yankees three times in the 1957 World Series
#230 Chico Carrasquel, Indians SS ($10) - One of the first players from Venezuela, he led the AL in fielding three times
#233 Carl Erskine, Dodgers P ($20) - A stalwart of the great Brooklyn rotation, he pitched a no-hitter in '52 and struck out 14 Yankees in a 1953 World Series game
#235 Don Newcombe, Dodgers P ($25) - The most effective hurler to come from the Negro Leagues, he was also a great hitter with his .359 BA & seven home runs in '55
#251 Yankees Team Card ($80) - '56 was the first time Topps produced team cards as part of their set and this is the toughest one to find...there are seven Hall of Famers included in the team photo
#257 Bobby Thomson, Braves OF ($20) - With the Giants in '51, hit one of the most famous home runs ever..."The shot heard round the world" to defeat the Dodgers for the NL Pennant
#280 Jim Gilliam, Dodgers OF ($20) - At Dodger Stadium, you'll see the uniform number of "Junior" retired along with many Hall of Famers
#284 Ike Delock, Red Sox P ($10) - A member of the BoSox bullpen in the 50's, he walked on the field last April at the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park...he turned 83 in November
#316 Jerry Coleman, Yankees IF ($15) - Along with Ted Williams, served in both World War II and Korea....the legendary play-by-play voice of the Padres, he's known for his malaprops...he once said that a player "slid into second base with a stand-up double"
#332 Don Larsen, Yankees P ($35) - Later in '56, he pitched the only perfect game in World Series history against the Dodgers
Of course, we would be remiss without including some of the great nicknames of players who appeared in this set
"Bullet Bob" Turley
"Jungle Jim" Rivera
Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell
Harry "Suitcase" Simpson
If most of these names sound familiar, it's time for your Advil.
Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.