While I would very much like to buy up every single vintage card I see, I'm a temporarily embarrassed millionaire at the moment so I have to make some hard choices with my card purchases. '50s, '60s or '70s? One really nice card or a pile of crummy ones? Chase the team or the set? I narrowed my focus this time on four years: 1953, 1956, 1965 and 1972. Didn't do too badly either. Pretty dang good with 1972 actually. 1965 and 1956 got a few numbers checked too:
1956 Topps #119 Larry Jackson
How much would you pay for a rookie card of a pitcher who would go on to win 194 games in the bigs? Larry pitched 14 years in the National League for the Cardinals, Cubs and Phillies. He won 194 games and had an above average career ERA of 3.40 to go along with 1700 Ks. In 1964 he won 24 games and finished second to Dean Chance in the Cy Young voting (this is where there was one winner in all of baseball). Tack on four all-star appearances for the righty from Idaho and you got a nice little career there. Think Steven Strasburg will end up with those numbers? I got this rookie for a buck. Yeah, rookie cards!
1956 Topps #280 Chico Carrasquel
Quick! Who was the first Latin player to go to the All-Star game? That's right, Chico! Chico went to the All Star game four times as a member of the White Sox. He still couldn't hold off fellow Venezuelan shortstop Luis Aparicio and got shipped off to the Indians for the '56 season. He had his best season at the plate as in Indian in 1957, hitting .276 with a 100 OPS+. Let's just say Chico was better known for his defense. This card was also a buck, probably because someone bookmarked it on the corner by his name.
1956 Topps #247 Bill Sarni
Play at the plate! Who is that, Jackie? Jim Gilliam maybe? This is why 1956 Topps is the best. If you're wondering about the NY scribbled up top, that's because Bill was traded to the Giants during the '565 season. Sadly this was Sarni's last MLB season as he retired after suffering a heart attack before the '57 season.
1965 Topps #41 White Sox Rookie Stars
The coveted double rookie card! So were these guys champs or chumps? Bruce Howard pitched for 6 years, all but one for the Sox. He ended up winning 26 games, and fathering future Royals infielder David Howard. Marv Staehle played one full year in the majors for the Expos but picked up a few games in six others. He has two items of note in his career: His only home run was hit off the immortal Lowell Palmer, and he played 22 to games for the Braves in 1971 resulting in a difficult high series card I had to chase down for my team set.
Let's finish up with the first series checklist. I'm somewhat humbled by the fact that I have more first series 1965 Topps cards than the original owner of this card. You can tell this guy is a serious collector, he checked off the card and filled in the box on the checklist. That's dedication there.