Do you ever get flashbacks? Well I sure did in those last few innings of the Angels and Rangers game 161 last week. Nothing like being one strike away, again only to see what seemed to be an insurmountable lead evaporate over an excruciating half hour or so. But on the bright side, the Rangers were still guaranteed a post-season berth so at least there was always tomorrow. Of course, my mind works differently than most people so I started thinking about great post-season moments and cards that might have been.
From the very early days of Topps, and granted in some of those early days, card production was harder than it is today, there were some great post-season moments which would have been neat to immortalize on cardboard the next year.
As Topps was planning its first major card set 64 years ago this fall, the famed “Shot Heard Round the World” game was played. While Bobby Thomson is featured on a card in that famous final series of Topps’ 1952 set, wouldn’t it have been cool if had some special card(s) on that homer in 1952 instead of having to wait a half century or so? If we had action shots in those days we could show Thomson jumping into home plate or even that great shot of Eddie Stanky tackling Manager Leo Durocher to prevent Durocher from aiding Thomson in any way in his jaunt around the bases.
Then a few years later I’d love to have seen a card of Yogi Berra hugging Don Larsen right after Larsen struck out Dale Mitchell to complete what remains the only perfect game in World Series history. Topps captured this moment much later as well, but a card in the 1957 set would have been great fun.
It’s unfortunate that Topps pulled back from its World Series subsets of the 1960s and early 70s, when every World Series game was commemorated on cardboard. The 1969 Topps ‘newspaper style’ subset that commemorated the Tigers-Cardinals great series of ’68 is really a classic and very popular with collectors (also very affordable) but eventually those sets sort of faded away.
We mentioned the 1975 World Series in another column. If there was ever a series that deserved its own subset, it was that one. Topps did give us one card in a very abbreviated post-season subset in ’76, but single cards devoted to each game of that great series, especially Game 6 with the Fisk home run, would have been highly sought after and collectible in the years to come.
With the Midwest being prime territory for the St. Louis Cardinals and card collecting, I can imagine the interest there in cards commemorating Ozzie Smith’s homer (go crazy folks!) and the one by Jack Clark had they been featured in the Topps set the following year. Those playoff homers are bad memories for Dodgers fans but overall, collectors would have loved them (and they’d have made perfect autograph material for famed Cards’ announcer Jack Buck years ago).
There are just some examples of key post-season homers which became instant classics for highlight reels but would have also made great cards but there are many, many more. I’m sure you have your moments which you would feel should be immortalized on cardboard and those of you with graphic design talents might even be creating your own cards just for fun, using the next year’s design. I’d love to see them.
Of course, technology has allowed Topps to actually produce digital cards for its BUNT game that commemorate the post-season almost immediately, which is cool if you’re into that.
As the 2015 playoffs begin, we’re anxious to see which moments get added to our memory banks. There’s nothing quite like October baseball and reliving it is part of the fun.