Not too many Hall of Famers, even those who later become managers after their playing career end have basically only one card as a player. Even George “Sparky” Anderson has two Topps cards, one in 1959 and one in 1960. A notable exception to this is one of the three managers selected as part of the Veteran Committee’s vote for 2014 induction.
The three “veterans” who will be inducted are Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre. LaRussa has only a few cards including his first card 50 years ago. His card is actually part of a great 1964 Topps Rookie Card class which includes Richie (Dick) Allen, Tony Conigliaro, Tommy John, Phil Niekro and some other players of varying fame. LaRussa would have cards like presidential elections, every four years until the end of his playing career. He and his crew cut are in the last series of the 1968 Topps set and he returns on a 1972 mid-series card.
Meanwhile, Joe Torre had his rookie card in the 1962 Topps set and because of his long playing career, was featured for the next 15 seasons.
But for Bobby Cox, the cards of him as a player are limited. Topps issued one for him in 1969 (#237) after his only full major league season as a Yankee third baseman and then he disappeared from cards until he became manager of the Braves in 1978.
Cox, who debuted in the big leagues at age 26 after being acquired from Atlanta in December of 1967, was basically was a one-season wonder for the Yankees who used him as a starter in 1968 and then replaced him with Bobby Murcer in 1969 and later with Jerry Kenney. Cox suffered from knee ailments on a regular basis. He would finish out the 1969 season as a Yankee and would end his professional career shortly thereafter.
Not every player’s cards take big price jumps when they’re elected to the Hall of Fame, but Cox’s election definitely helped the value of his ’69 Topps card, which went from a common not that long ago to a Hall of Famer. NM/MT graded examples have been bringing $55-65 with high quality ungraded examples not far behind.
Cox didn’t have a 1970 card, although there certainly could be one if Topps had wanted to print one, thus the only card issued during Cox’ career showing him as a big league player is a 1969 Topps Card (#237).
Not only is this card the only one to feature Cox in a major league uniform during his playing career it is also a bit of a challenge to find in high grade.
However, if you want a really difficult card of Cox during his playing career, go search for his 1967 Topps Venezuela card in the lowest numbers. These cards are really difficult to come by and some cards in that series are believed to have fewer than ten copies extant. You can see Cox’s 1969 Topps cards on eBay here.
Cox, of course, is in the Hall because of his managerial success. He’s fourth on the all-time wins list and a four-time manager of the year whose number 6 has been retired by the Braves. It’s probably not something he envisioned 45 years ago when he saw himself on a baseball card for the first time.