When Topps challenged Bowman for the pennies and nickels of baseball loving 1950s youngsters, it wasn’t quite as simple as taking some photos, creating the front and back design and turning on a printing press. The card companies, even then, needed players to agree to be included.
An article in the August 7, 1952 edition of the Berkshire Eagle offers some insight into the process through the eyes of a columnist who spent time with Topps’ right hand man.
Ameen “Turk” Karam was a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers who moonlighted as an agent for Topps, visiting big league players in New York ballparks, hoping to get them to sign or extend their agreement with America’s newest gum card maker.
In the article, shown below, writer Roger O’Gara reports Topps was paying veteran players $100 and rookies $50 for their signatures, which would be reproduced as part of their cards. Not every player was agreeable and the article mentions Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Ralph Kiner, Vic Raschi and Sal Maglie as being holdouts. Musial, in fact, would stay with Bowman for most of his career while Williams was an on-again, off-again participant.
Interestingly, Karam relays the story of Yankees’ pitcher Allie Reynolds’ generosity in spearheading a plan whereby veterans and young players alike would pool their money and split it evenly.
Through Karam, O’Gara reveals Topps’ plans to “bring out a fall model” of its 1952 series, a clear nod to the high number series that wound up being a failure but today causes collectors to spend thousands of dollars in an effort to complete it.