To commemorate the 60th Anniversary (the Diamond Anniversary) of Topps Baseball Cards, the Company selected, in their opinion, the Topps (ha ha) 100 cards of all-time. In Topps' 60 year history, they have thrust upon the masses (by my estimate, as of 2010 Topps Update Series) 43,133 regular and traded Topps cards. This total does NOT include errors, variations, and the like. If you want to whittle it down further, that would be 37,759 cards in the eponymous set and 5,374 cards found in Topps Traded/Traded and Rookies/Updates and Highlights/Update Series. So out of 43,133 cards, they picked 100 cards (or 0.2318% of all cards)for us the collectors to vote on our ten favorites of their picks and the top 60 of them, one by one, from 60 to 1, will be added as reprints in packs of the upcoming product.
While the list of cards is impressive (go to http://vote.topps.com/ to see which made the cut), I have to wonder what the criteria was in selecting the 100 cards on the proverbial ballot. Obviously there are the iconic cards from the 1952 Topps set (Pafko, Robinson, Mathews, Mantle), and a ton of rookie cards (Gibson 1959, Maris 1958, Banks 1954, Bonds 1987, Maddux 1987 Traded, etc.), but there were a lot of headscratchers that made me think...WHAT??!
To wit, the 1989 Topps Randy Johnson card. Sure, it's the Big Unit on an Expos card. But is that really one of the 100 best ever? Dwight Gooden's Record breaker card is on here from 1985 Topps, but not his 1984 Topps Traded card? If you're going to include the 1983 Topps cards of Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs, what happened to Ryne Sandberg??! Nothing against Sammy Sosa and his 1990 Topps card, but where's the Big Hurt??!
And if you're going to go with the gimmicks (oooh, I know that Chris Harris must be having a field day with this one...) a la the 2006 Alex Gordon and the 2007 Derek Jeter, then why not something more fun, like the 1985 Topps Gary Pettis, or even the 1972 Billy Martin? I guess they wanted cards that they PURPOSELY created, not something that was out of their control.
Finally, once again, I understand his importance in the role of making Topps synonymous with baseball cards, but did you guys have to include ALMOST EVERY MICKEY MANTLE CARD IN THE CATALOG (15 cards if you're counting, somehow all except his 1958 and 1961 base cards make the list) on the website??! And on a totally unrelated note, if the guy can't even be included on insert cards, how in the heck did two (not one...two) of Pete Rose's cards get on here? And really...the 2010 Stephen Strasburg is already one of the 100 greatest Topps cards ever??!
So for the faint of heart, here are the 100 cards on the list, by year:
- 1952 (9): Ed Mathews, Andy Pafko, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra
- 1953 (4): J. Robinson, Mays, Satchell Paige, Mantle
- 1954 (4): Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Henry Aaron, Mays
- 1955 (5): Williams, Sandy Koufax, Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Harmon Killebrew
- 1956 (4): Williams, Koufax, Mantle, Clemente
- 1957 (7): Brooks Robinson, Williams, Don Drysdale, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax
- 1958 (1): Roger Maris
- 1959 (3): Mantle AS, Mantle, Bob Gibson
- 1960 (3): Carl Yastrzemski, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey AS
- 1961 (3): Maris AS, Mantle MVP, Juan Marichal
- 1962 (1): Mantle
- 1963 (2): Pedro Gonzalez/Ken McMullen/Pete Rose/Al Weis, Mantle
- 1964 (2): Rose, Mantle
- 1965 (3): Mantle, Joe Morgan/Sonny Jackson, Fritz Ackley/Steve Carlton
- 1966 (1): Mantle
- 1967 (2): Mantle, Bill Denehy/Tom Seaver
- 1968 (3): Mantle, Johnny Bench/Ron Tompkins, Jerry Koosman/Nolan Ryan
- 1969 (2): Mantle, Reggie Jackson
- 1970 (2): Nolan Ryan, Thurman Munson/Dave McDonald
- 1971 (1): Thurman Munson
- 1972 (1): Mike Garman, Cecil Cooper, Carlton Fisk
- 1973 (2): Roberto Clemente, Ron Cey/John Hilton/Mike Schmidt
- 1974 (1): Dave Winfield
- 1975 (2): Robin Yount, George Brett
- 1977 (1): R. Jackson
- 1978 (1): Eddie Murray
- 1979 (1): Ozzie Smith
- 1980 (1): Rickey Henderson
- 1982 (2): Bob Bonner/Cal Ripken/Jeff Schneider, Cal Ripken (Traded)
- 1983 (2): Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn
- 1984 (2): Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry
- 1985 (4): Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Dwight Gooden RB, Mark McGwire US
- 1986 (2): Jose Canseco (Traded), Bo Jackson (Traded)
- 1987 (3): Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux (Traded), McGwire
- 1989 (2): Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr. (Traded)
- 1990 (1): Sammy Sosa
- 1991 (1): Chipper Jones
- 1992 (1): Manny Ramirez
- 1993 (1): Derek Jeter
- 2001 (2): Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols (Traded)
- 2002 (1): Joe Mauer
- 2005 (1): Ryan Howard/Cole Hamels
- 2006 (1): Alex Gordon
- 2007 (1): Derek Jeter
- 2010 (1): Stephen Strasburg
The ten cards I chose based on this list, and in by year, were:
- 1952 Mantle (if this card isn't number one, then you might as well shut down the legitimacy of the site, the reputation of the company, and the sanity of the collectors/voters who rigged it so that it won't win)
- 1954 Banks (needed to put a Cub in here)
- 1957 Aaron (the reverse negative that made even Aaron feel bad about it - he thought he posed incorrectly on purpose)
- 1973 Clemente (has, sadly, the complete stats of probably the greatest players, if not human beings, on the planet)
- 1984 Mattingly (when I started collecting in 1987, this card was KING)
- 1985 McGwire (between the home run chase and my first forays into collecting online, this card was KING)
- 1987 Bonds (admit it what other reason was there to include this card other than to stir the pot)
- 2001 Suzuki (one of the most sought after cards in the 21st century...still is ten years later).
- 2001 Pujols Traded (see Suzuki)
- 2006 Gordon (gimmicks aside, finding this card was akin to Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket)
There are many cards that were totally ignored and horribly excluded from this list. The 1983 Sandberg comes to mind. The 1995 Royce Clayton or 1996 Chuck Knoblauch (heck, the 1994 Sandberg) for Topps use of the triple action shot (their response to that other card company's photography) would have been good. The 2004 Jason Michaels card was a nice one. How about the 1991 Oscar Azocar.
So I did my part. I cast my ballot. You all should too, as card #60 will be announced on December 18, 2010. You can supposedly vote once per day, but I don't plan on doing so. Once is enough I think, and I have this funny feeling that while the promotion is going to be good, a lot of backlash is going to come of it between now and when card #1 is selected. May the best card win.