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Friday, January 16, 2009

'53 Nights

We all know Night Owl really likes Night Cards. Last night he posted his favorite night card, a 1972 Topps Stan Williams. In the post he wonders if that is in fact the first night card ever made. the answer is no. Wrigley Wax found this 1969 Topps Del Unser with the lights on. So is that the first one? Not even close. Check out this wonderful beater:

1953 Topps Dick Brodowski. Pitch black, lights-a-blazin' with a funky halo effect around Dick's head. Now, technically this isn't a photo, but it is most definitely a night card. Most of the paintings were based on photos from what I've heard so it's very possible that the original photo was taken under the lights. Night games weren't all that uncommon by 1953, every team had played under the lights at their home park except the Cubs by 1947. It's one thing to play a game under the lights, it's quite another to take decent photography at night. Is this the first night card? I'm not sure. I'll bet if I looked hard enough I could find another one, but this is the oldest one I know about.

In 2002 Topps Heritage created a night variation short print for ten cards in the set. They listed the backgrond from Dick's card and put it behind 10 players' cards. Here's Dodger fink Rafael Furcal posing with a night background as black as his soul:

The full set of night variation cards are as follows:

10 Randy Johnson
25 Rafael Furcal
63 Jeff Cirillo
69 John Olerud
92 Johnny Damon
99 Ben Sheets
100 Preston Wilson
104 Jorge Posada
184 Adrian Gonzalez
205 Pokey Reese

There's actually one other card in the set that might be a night card as well:

No light standards in the background, but it's awfully dark. It can't hold the title of first night card (assuming that Brodowski is the one) because Dick is from series one and Wayne is from series two. Still a pretty nifty couple of cards.

Can anyone else find an older night card? There have been baseball games using artificial light in the majors since 1935 and in baseball since the 1880s, there's bound to be one out there somewhere.


night owl said...

As you may know, I'm more partial to photos than paintings, but it's still cool!

I especially like the Raffy. That was a neat idea by Heritage.

The old Baseball Cards Magazine did a very nice story about 25 years ago on the guy who painted most, if not all, of the pictures for the '53 cards. I should dig that out. It was very interesting.

dayf said...

I had that magazine, that article is what got me really interested in 1953 Topps cards.

AlbuqwirkE said...

For what it's worth, I believe the first "Knight" card is the 1909 Ramly Cigarettes T204 offering of New York Highlanders shortstop John Knight. That card does feature a (studio) photo.