Former Topps Company executive Sy Berger, regarded as the “father of the modern baseball card” died early Sunday at his home in Rockville Center, NY, according to friend and former Topps employee Marty Appel. He was 91.
A Bucknell graduate, Berger went to work for Topps before it produced baseball cards. He served in World War II, then became part of a small team that took on Bowman Gum by signing players to appear on the company’s oversized 1952 Topps set, which was designed on Berger’s kitchen table.
It was Berger who personally signed players to baseball card contracts throughout the next few decades.
“The Topps family is very saddened by the loss of one of its most cherished members: Sy Berger,” the company stated. “His contributions to the Company as well as major professional sports and entertainment properties have been monumental to say the least. Thank you Sy! You have and will continue to put smiles on the faces of children, collectors and fans for generations. Topps extends its heartfelt condolences to the Berger family.”
And from his friend Willie Mays:
“What can I say about Sy Berger? He was my long-time friend. He helped me from my first days in the majors. I never could have made it without him. He always knew the right thing to say or the right thing to do. We worked together. We laughed together. We grew up together. What I can say to you is, ‘He was my friend.’ What I would say to him is, ‘So long old pal.'”
Below is a collection of stories, videos, photos and Berger baseball cards produced by Topps.