It drove youngsters trying to complete the set a little batty 61 years ago and for years collectors have wondered about the identities of the six cards that were apparently pulled from the last series of 1953 Topps Baseball cards.
Apparently, we now know.
On his ESPN show Monday night, Keith Olbermann shared images of an old piece of paper long-time hobby historian/collector Bob Lemke had uncovered. Olbermann says the sheet was accompanied by a letter from Topps. It states the numbers that were removed, which we’ve always known as #253,261,267,268,271 and 275. Below that, the note states “the following players were taken out” and lists Joe Tipton, Ken Wood, Hoot Evers, Harry Brecheen, Billy Cox and Pete Castiglione.
Topps and Bowman both had MLB licenses and were in a bitter battle over exclusive player contracts as they competed for nickels from kids across the country and it’s possible some of those players were pulled because of that. Tipton, Wood and Cox all wound up in Bowman’s 1953 set but the others did not.
Player movement may have also impacted the set because the cards were rendered from paintings and there was likely no time to make changes. Those paintings were saved and dozens eventually sold at auction but there was no Evers painting.
In any case, the note does seem to prove which players were supposed to be there when Topps laid out its fourth series.
You can check out complete sets and partial sets of 1953 Topps on eBay here.