Title: Is the photo on the 1969 Topps Tommie Aaron card the most out-dated that Topps ever used?
Below is the a copy of my letter that was published in the July 9, 2010 'Feedback" section of Sport's Collectors Digest. Since writing the letter, I was able to find a 1969 Topps Autographed Tommie Aaron card and add it to my collection. I also noticed that Topps used a closer crop of the same photo on the 1963 card as they used on the 1969 card. Tommies' 1963 Topps cards verifies my theory that the picture was taken in 1962.
I really enjoyed reading Keith Olbermann’s comments in the June 18th edition of SCD on the 1969 Topps article written by T.S. O’Connell and contributed to by yours truly. Keith was able to date the photo on Chris Short’s 1969 Topps Baseball Card to either 1962 or 1963 because of the Polo Grounds scoreboard in the background. Very well done, Keith.
As a life long fan of the 1969 Topps set, it made me wonder what is the oldest photograph used on a card in the 1969 Topps set? Although Short’s photo may have been taken during the 1962 season, the earliest photo that I could identify with absolute certainty in the 1969 Topps set was card #128 of Tommie Aaron. 1962 was Tommie Aaron’s rookie year and also the last year that the Braves wore the uniform with the ‘Tomahawk” across the chest.
This means that Topps definitely used a seven year old photo for this card! To my knowledge, this is a record for any card in any Topps vintage set. Topps seems to have sunk to their lowest point of using out-dated photos in the 1969 set.
What makes this even more interesting to me is that the oldest photo is on Tommie Aaron’s card. I truly felt sorry for Hank’s kid brother. This poor guy just could not seem to catch a break.
If I am correct about this 7 year old picture being a record for Topps, Tommie is now the dubious answer to a second obscure trivia question. (The other being, “What brothers hold the major league record for the most combined career Home Runs with 768?”)
Tommie was top prospect and very good minor league player. He was the International League MVP and led the Richmond Braves to a league pennant in 1967. In the majors, Tommie could not escape the shadow of his brother. In 7 major league seasons, he hit only 13 home runs with a .229 batting average. Much worse, Tommie died of leukemia in 1984 at the very young age of 45.
As an unthinking 5 year old kid, I can remember looking at the stats on the back of Tommie’s card and asking my father, “How can this guy’s brother be such a great player and this guy be so bad?” Evidently, I was not the only person to ask this question. Nor was my Dad the only person that could not answer it.
Hank Aaron was quoted in The Sporting News (April 8, 1999) as saying, "He (Tommie) meant a lot to me. I think if he played with another ball club, I think he probably would have had a better major league career. The media was always comparing us. I'm sure, by me being successful, it put a lot of pressure on him. He couldn't play up to his potential."
I am fairly confident that Tommie’s is the oldest photo used in the 1969 set. Topps may have used an older photo in some other vintage set, but no other card comes to mind.
To make this interesting, I will give a $50 DeansCards.com Gift Certificate to the first person who can show convincing evidence that Topps used an older picture (for a regular player card) in any of their vintage (pre-1974) sets.
If you are interested in more information on my 1969 Topps Autographed set, I have posted a You Tube Video and a slideshow of each of the scans of the cards in my autographed set at http://blog.deanscards.com/ Enjoy.
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