Thursday, September 20, 2012

All-Time Greats in 1956 Topps style

The 1956 set was the first issue by Topps without competition from Bowman, and the designers at Topps did not disappoint. The 1956 set includes a close up portrait of the player as well as an action shot in the background and is one of the most beautiful baseball card designs ever released.

Two years later, Topps began the practice of including sub-sets in their releases. Cards featuring All-Stars, MVP's, World Series highlites, league leaders and former Hall of Famers became staples of Topps sets. However, there were no cards like this yet in the 1956 set - and I always wondered, "What-If they had made a Babe Ruth card in the 1956 Topps set?"

So, here I present what it might have looked like if Topps had included a sub-set of All-Time Greats in the 1956 set:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The missing 1953 Topps Baseball cards

The 1953 issue by Topps was the companies second major issue. It was numbered at 280 cards with six cards not released (253, 261, 267, 268, 271, 275), down from 407 cards in the 1952 set. The decrease in quantity was due to the competition between Topps and Bowman to sign ballplayers to exclusive contracts. The original artwork has been discovered for at least 5 of the missing 6 cards, but as I mentioned in a previous blog, there were well over 100 players included in the 1953 Bowman set and not in the Topps set.

Here is my take on a few of players not included in the 1953 Topps set:

Up next, I will present some All-Time Baseball Greats in the 1956 Topps format...

                                      What If there was a Ty Cobb card made in 1956....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Correcting Baseball Card Errors

Today I will show some custom baseball cards in the form of corrections to several of the more famous errors and anomalies on vintage cards. There are many cases of reversed negative and wrong player photos on modern cards, but I will be focusing on the classic pre-1970 cards.

First, I will start with the 1957 Topps Hank Aaron. This was a card with a reversed negative, and Topps did not issue a correction. The original card makes Hammerin' Hank appear to be left handed. This was not a technically difficult card to correct, but I always wanted to see the card as it was originally intended:

Original 1957 Topps Hank Aaron

                                                     with reversed negative corrected

Let's stay with Hank Aaron for now. In 1956 Topps used a picture of Willie Mays for the action photo on the Aaron card.

Original 1956 Topps Hank Aaron
and here is my version with an actual picture of Hank Aaron sliding.

The next card is more of a practical joke then an error. Lew Burdette posed as a left hander on his 1959 Topps card. I read somewhere that notorious prankster Warren Spahn had put him up to it. This not only was missed by Topps, but they also spelled his name wrong too - Lou instead of Lew!

Original 1959 Topps Burdette
My corrected version of this card.

Here is another case of a reversed negative that Topps missed that resulted in a left handed catcher on a baseball card.

Original 1969 Topps Larry Haney
and my corrected version
Here's another practical joke card. Tommy John posed in an action pose for his 1969 card and left the ball in his glove. This was not a technically challenging fix, but here are the before and after:

And finally, I present the 1957 Topps Mickey Mantle card. For years, collectors have theorized who the mysterious figure is in the back of the card and why did Topps feel compelled to air brush the figure out of existence. There are actually 2 subtly different versions out there with different degrees of shading on the hidden figure.

The original 1957 Topps Mickey Mantle
And finally, after many hours of work cleaning and filtering the image, we see that the mysterious figure is actually;
long lost pilot Amelia Earhart, missing since 1937 during her attempt fly around the world.

check back later for more of my What-If baseball cards!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The missing 1955 Topps baseball cards

1955 was the final year of the Topps and Bowman baseball card wars. The war began in 1951 when Topps issued the Blue and Red Backs sets, but it really got heated when Topps released the landmark 1952 set. There was competition  between the 2 companies to sign the players to exclusive contracts and each year saw a decline in the number of players appearing in both sets. The competition ended in 1956 when Topps bought out Bowman.
(check back in the future for a blog featuring cards in what would have been the 1956 Bowman design).

I have loaded the checklists into a database, and according to my queries here are the number of players appearing in both Topps and Bowman sets by year:

1952: 223
1953: 116
1954: 84
1955: 45

So, while most collectors are aware of the 4 card numbers not issued in the 1955 Topps set (#'s 175, 186, 203 and 209), there was in reality more than 200 players who appeared in the 1955 Bowman set but not in the Topps issue.

This is bad news for fans of baseball cards of the 50's, but for those of us who enjoy making custom baseball cards - it gives us lots of opportunities to have some fun. I may never get around to doing a George Zuverink 1955 Topps card, but even if I only focused on cards missing from the 1952 to 1955 Topps and Bowman sets, I would have enough projects to keep me busy for years to come.

I have created 16 of these missing 1955 Topps cards so far, here they are in alphabetical order:

                                                            1955 Topps Richie Ashburn

                                                           1955 Topps Roy Campanella
                                                            1955 Topps Bob Feller
                                                              1955 Topps Whitey Ford
                                                            1955 Topps Nellie Fox
                                                            1955 Topps Elston Howard
                                                                1955 Topps Don Larsen
                                                                1955 Topps Gil McDougald
                                                               1955 Topps Mickey Mantle
                                                           1955 Topps Stan Musial
                                                             1955 Topps Vic Raschi
                                                           1955 Topps Pee Wee Reese
                                                            1955 Topps Allie Reynolds

                                                              1955 Topps Red Schoendienst
                                                             1955 Topps Herb Score
                                                            1955 Topps Casey Stengel

Careful observers may notice that Topps usually used the same portrait in both the 1955 and 1956 issues, so I also followed that methodology whenever possible.

I will update with more missing cards from the 1955 Topps set as I create them, so be sure to stop by again!

In my next post to this blog, I will discuss some of the more famous baseball card errors along with my corrected versions.