by Craig Paulson
For the past 60 years, Topps has produced some of the most popular baseball cards in the industry. To celebrate their 60th anniversary, Topps will be creating a list of their 60 greatest baseball cards of all-time, counting them down one at a time after collectors and fans vote on their favorites from a group of nominees.
Which cards didn’t make the cut…but should have? Here are a few:
1952 Jackie Robinson
The first card that should be included in the Topps list is the 1952 Jackie Robinson. Since Topps didn’t begin producing cards until 1952, they missed out on producing a Jackie Robinson rookie card.
By 1952, Robinson was already a household name and considered one of the best players in baseball. Robinson should continue to be honored for not only his game play, but by the fact that he broke baseball’s color barrio and opened the door for thousands of other players.
1964 Pete Rose
While many people do not agree that Pete Rose should be in the baseball Hall of Fame, he continues to be one of the most influential players in baseball history. Rose is the all-time hits leader, but was banned from baseball for gambling. While Rose played well into his 40s, the 1964 Topps Card shows a very young Pete Rose, no longer a rookie, but about to embark on a journey both remarkable and tragic.
1970 Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan was widely considered one of the most dominating pitchers of all-time, and is the all-time baseball strikeout leader. While he is best known for his days pitching for the Astros, Angels, and Rangers, Ryan actually started his career with the New York Mets, where he was a part of the historic 1969 World Series champs. The 1970 card shows a picture of Ryan warming up prior to a game during that amazing season. It’s among the semi-high numbers, too.
1982 Cal Ripken Junior
Cal Ripken showed extreme promise and dedication early in his career. His work effort eventually led to a career that is regarded as one of the best ever for a shortstop and included a games played streak that will most likely never be matched. While Ripken will always be remembered for breaking the consecutive games streak, the 1982 card will always remind fans of how young and talented Ripken was early in his career. It’s one of just a handful of 1980s cards that vintage and modern collectors feel is a must have.
1985 Dwight Gooden
No pitcher in baseball history was quite as dominant as Dwight Gooden was early in his career. When he entered Major League Baseball in 1984 Gooden took the league by storm by winning the Rookie of the Year Award and the 1985 Cy Young Award. While his career ended up lasting for nearly 16 years, his success fizzled away due to off the field problems and injuries. His 1985 Topps card, once one of the hottest in the market, reminds us of how dominant he was in his prime and how innocent we were as a hobby 25 years ago despite the rookie card craze.
1989 Ken Griffey Jr Traded
When he first came into the big leagues, Ken Griffey Junior was considered a phenom that would be a dominant player for years to come. Griffey proved that all of the critics were correct as he became one of the best defenders and dangerous hitters in all of baseball.
After Griffey left Seattle for Cincinnati, he suffered through a string of injuries and his production dropped off. While Griffey is sure to make it into the Hall of Fame, many have forgotten or never knew how dominant and youthful he was early in his career. The chase for Griffey rookies defined an entire generation of young sports fans who got absolutely hooked on baseball cards. This card may not have gotten the attention that Upper Deck’s inaugural Junior card did, but with Topps now the exclusive licensee of MLB, it’s gaining new respect and is worthy of inclusion.