I posed the question yesterday:
“Lost Cards.” Every year card companies come out with different sets and make decisions about what athletes they do and don’t include in those sets. They choose to include new subsets – and exclude old ones. What’s the card or card(s) that weren’t produced that you wish had been made?
My entry for this is going to be based on what I call “the year after”. And I’m going to do this over 60 posts covering the rest of this month (and a little into February).
I’ve always been intrigued by who is or isn’t in a specific set. Sometimes there’s a random player missing – Ichiro wasn’t in 2013 Topps products because of contractual issues. A-Rod wasn’t in the Topps flagship set the first few years of his career for the same reason. Rickey Henderson is just an omission from 1998 Topps, though he did make an insert set in that same product.
The most common reason that I’ve noticed, however, is that the player retired. When a player retires at the end of one season, it’s a complete toss-up if that player will be included in the next year’s set. It may be contractual – as the player isn’t part of the MLBPA any more. Regardless of the reason, this matters to collectors, because collectors love to have a card with the player’s final statistics on the back. The two most collected players of the Topps card era both had cards like this – Nolan Ryan retired in 1993, and his 1994 card shows all 5,714 strikeouts and 324 wins on the back of his card. Likewise, Mickey Mantle’s 1969 Topps card showcases his career total of 536 homers. But more often than not, it seems this isn’t the case.
Over the next month I’m going to go through the years of Topps cards and figure out who was the most notable player to retire that year, and whether or not he had a “final” card the next year. If not, I’d say that’s an excellent opportunity for inclusion in another “Cards that Never Were” set for Topps to make someday. I’m going to start in 1952 and go all the way through the 2013 sets. I thought about going earlier and including Bowman – but Bowman didn’t put statistics on the back of their cards until 1953 (as a response to the fact Topps did it the year before).
For the rest of the month, look for one or two posts a day for this mini-project of mine. Today’s posts feature 1952 and 1953.
Best Player to retire in 1951. Joe DiMaggio (Hall of Famer)
Did he have a 1952 card? No
I’m starting this off with quite a notable name! DiMaggio didn’t sign a contract with Topps or Bowman, so 1949 Leaf was the last mainstream card of DiMaggio.
Was a “retro” card ever produced? Yes – Topps did actually create a version of this “card that never was” in 2007, as part of an eTopps and National Convention promotion.
Apologies to: Bobby Doerr (Hall of Famer), who also didn’t have a 1952 Topps or Bowman card. Doerr was featured on the 1951 Topps Blue Backs, and if you don’t count that as “mainstream”, than 1950 Bowman was the last card from his playing days.