As a collector and purveyor of vintage baseball cards, it is always a thrill when a collection comes across my desk that includes 1953 Topps cards. The beauty and artistry of this iconic set sets it apart in the history of the hobby.
Topps produced their first full set of baseball cards in 1952 and it is the holy grail for collectors of post-WWII cardboard.
The format was very clean with a bordered photo that included the player’s name with a facsimile autograph and a team logo. Today, the cards are scarce…especially in nice condition.
In ’53 however, the company went in a completely different direction by utilizing line drawings of players in full color. Some cards were short-printed (SP) while others were double-printed (DP) and all of them have a name and team panel at the bottom that is easily damaged. Let’s look at some of the Hall of Famers who graced the cards and we’ll use a condition valuation of “EX 5” (on a scale of 1-to-10) to help you determine the current worth. In 1953, of course, you could buy a pack for a nickel and it included six cards and a stick of gum.
> #1 Jackie Robinson, Dodgers 2B, $425 – The first card in every 50’s set is difficult to find in decent condition because kids used rubber bands to hold their collection together and the top card was subject to more damage. It’s especially a factor when the card is also of a player of this caliber.
> #27 Roy Campanella, Dodgers C, $90 – A three-time NL MVP in the 50’s
> #37 Eddie Mathews Braves 3B, $75 – 512 Home Runs in his career
> #54 Bob Feller Indians P, $70 – Came back after 3+ years in the military to continue his amazing career
> #76 Pee Wee Reese Dodgers SS, $85 – Another great member of the “Boys of Summer”
> #82 Mickey Mantle Yankees OF, $3,250 – Still the most popular player of this golden era, his cards are in great demand
> #104 Yogi Berra, Yankees C, $135 – Along with “Campy”, another three time winner of the MVP
> #114 Phil Rizzuto, Yankees SS, $80 – Went into the broadcast booth after his playing career and made the call on Roger Maris’ 61st Home Run
> #147 Warren Spahn, Braves P, $85 – The most Wins of any left-hander in baseball history (363)
> #207 Whitey Ford, Yankees P, $85 – Called the “Chairman of the Board” long before Sinatra
> #220 Satchel Paige, Browns P, $350 – The greatest hurler in the history of the Negro Leagues
> #244 Willie Mays, Giants OF, $1,250 – The “Say Hey” Kid
Other Cooperstown inductees in the set include Johnny Mize, Enos Slaughter, Early Wynn, Monte Irvin, George Kell, Hoyt Wilhelm and Ralph Kiner.
And, of course, great baseball nicknames like “Toothpick” Sam Jones, Forrest “Smoky” Burgess, Louis “Bobo” Newsom, Harry “Peanuts” Lowrey, Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell, Emory “Bubba” Church, Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones, Virgil “Fire” Trucks, Sebastian “Sibby” Sisti, Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, Omar “Turk” Lown, Albert “Rube” Walker, Harry “Suitcase” Simpson, Paul “Dizzy” Trout, Eldon “Rip” Repulski and many others
Each card is a beautiful piece of baseball history.