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Thursday, August 20, 2009

1954 Topps Baseball Cards

1954 Topps Baseball

The 1954 Topps Baseball Card set includes 250 vintage size cards, which measure 3 5/8” by 3¾”.  The 1954 Topps Baseball cards feature numerous Hall-of-Fame rookies as well as a few stars from pre-War days.  The middle-number series (51-75) is the most difficult and expensive to collect.

The key rookie cards are #25 Harvey Kuenn, #94 Ernie Banks, #128 Hank Aaron, #132 Tommy Lasorda and #201 Al Kaline.
  • The 1954 Topps Baseball Card set featured Ted Williams on both the first and last cards (#1 and #250).  This is the only time that Topps ever had two regular cards of the same player.
  • Dean’s Pick for the best 1954 Topps baseball card is the #250 Ted Williams card that shows Ted Williams with the bat on this shoulder.  This image has been reused many times over the years.
  • In the early 1950’s, Topps and the Bowman Gum Co. were locked in a competitive battle for the baseball card market.  In 1954, Topps was able to sign the game’s biggest star - Ted Williams - to an exclusive 5-year contract its policy and offering Ted more money.  Up until that time, Topps paid standard, non-negotiable amount to all players.
  • There were 11 Hall-of –Fame Players that went with Bowman, instead of Topps Baseball cards in 1954:  Roy Campanella, Bob Feller, Nellie Fox, George Kell, Ralph Kiner, Bob Lemon, Mickey Mantle, Pee Wee Reese, Robin Roberts, Red Schoendiest and Enos Slaughter.
  • Some of the other stars missing from the 1954 Topps set include: Bobby Avila, Gus Bell, Lew Burdette, Smokey Burgess, Billy Cox, Al Dark, Del Ennis, Carl Erskine, Dee Fondy, Carl Furillo, Whitey Lockman, Gil McDonald, Minnie Minoso and Billy Pierce.
  • Stan Musial did not want his picture on a card and had no baseball card again until his 1958 All-Star card.
  • As a result of losing these top names, 1954 Topps Baseball card set contained rookie cards for almost 60 players.
  • Many of the 1954 Topps rookies were unknown players (including 17 old coaches and 4 managers) who would never appear on cards again.
  • Three of the 1954 Topps coaches cards were elected to the Hall-of-Fame: Earle Combs, Billy Herman and Heine Manush.
  • 1954 Topps Baseball Cards were its first issue to feature both a portrait head shot view of the player and an action shot.
  • The 1954 Topps 1st series (cards #1 to #50) contain a “grey backed” version that is believed to have been printed and distributed in Canada.
  • The 1954 Topps Baseball card set contained Topps’ first multi-player card of twin brothers Ed & John O’Brien
  • 1954 Topps Baseball Cards were issued in one-card penny packs, five-card nickel packs and 15-card cello packs.
  • Another innovation of the 1954 Topps baseball cards is that the backs of the cards had 2 or 3 panel cartoons that highlighted the player’s career.
  • The back of the 1954 Topps Baseball card set was printed in sheet format in such a way that when the front of the cards are stacked to face the same way, half of card backs will have the card number at the top and half will have it at the bottom of the card.  This confusing over site has frustrated collectors ever since and the mistake was never repeated by Topps.
  • The first two issues of Sports Illustrated Magazine contained 1954 Topps Baseball cards issued on paper stock.  The SI issue contains a card of Mickey Mantle, which is not available in the standard 1954 topps baseball card set.
  • The 1954 Topps is the oldest set that is a relatively easy set to complete.  There are no really tough to find high numbers and except for the rookie cards – the card prices are reasonable – especially in lower grades.
  • If you can not afford the expensive 1954 Topps rookie cards, then temporarily substitute cards from the 1954 Topps reprint set until your budget can afford the originals.  About everyone but the two Ted Williams cards are available.
  • Get used to the portraits on the 1954 Topps baseball cards as many were reused by Topps for the 1955 and 1956 sets.