My favorite common

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I have been contemplating writing a post on my favorite baseball card, thinking that it would lead to other people writing a post about their favorite baseball card, and so on.

The risk  of such an exercise is that every time someone runs a poll asking what the best baseball card is, the winner is the 1952 Mantle or the T206 Wagner or something. That’s well and good, but not what I am talking about. I not talking about the card you most want to own or most want to show off, I am talking about a card that reminds you of why you started collecting cards. So I thought I would restrict my criteria to “common” cards, or at least cards that you love for reasons other than their value. A card you can stare in order to teleport back to your childhood.

As it  happens, I have a lot of cards that meet this criteria. I will choose one, understanding that I might choose another next week.

Mike Andrews was the second baseman on my beloved childhood team, the late 1960s and early 1970s Red Sox. He was a very good player, a guy who got on base, had some power, and could field his position. He was not my favorite player, but he was one of them. There was a kid in my Connecticut neighborhood whose name was Mike Andrews, so this was *his* favorite player. Mine was Yaz, which was admittedly the safe choice.

This card though. My favorite cards then and now depict a player posing with a glove or bat under a bright blue sunny sky. Andrews is wearing the bright home uniform — because so many photos in this era were taken in New York, most players (other than Mets and Yankees) tended to be photographed in road grays.  (Happily, there were a handful of Red Sox cards that year taken at Fenway Park — George Scott, Joe Lahoud, Dick Schofield, a few others.  Those were always welcome.)

More than that, Andrews’ expression exudes confidence. As he was getting ready to embark on another season for my team, I needed to see this expression. It heartened me. He looked ready to take on all comers, even those overrated Orioles.

Just so I am not accused of being a Red Sox fanboy, another example I could have chosen is this beauty of Jerry Grote. I love posed catcher cards, and this again has the beautiful spring day thing going for it. And when I look at Campy, who always took beautiful cards, I am transported back to the summer I was six years old and fell in love with cards and the game.

grotejerry
1969 Topps
mark-armour-armour-part05-1967-campanerisbert
1967 Topps

Author: Mark Armour

Long-time SABR member, co-chair of the Baseball Cards Committee, founder and past chairman (2002-2016) of the Biography Project, author of several books and dozens of articles on baseball. See mark-armour.net.

23 thoughts on “My favorite common”

    1. There were several common cards in the 1971 set that were pictures of the players during actual games. And they were not special “So and so in action” cards. Here are some links. Great ones of Thurman Munson making a tag at home and Cookie Rojas turning a DP

      http://thebaseballchronicle.com/personal_stories/1971_topps_baseball

      http://keymancollectibles.com/baseballcards/1971toppsbaseballcards.htm

      http://www.sportscollectorsdigest.com/1971-topps-baseball-action-shots/

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      1. I love that Rojas card. Unfortunately, many of the 1971 “game-action” cards were either poorly cropped and somewhat confusing. The Bud Harrelson card featured several random players, including Harrelson on the far left. But a few were great, including Rojas. Rudy May was also great IMO.

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  1. I see what you mean about the Harrelson card. He does not take up much of the image, although it is not a bad game shot. The Rudy May card is great since he is in mi-d windup and just about to deliver the ball

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  2. As a kid just starting to collect, two come to mind: 1980 Topps Gary Carter and 1981 Topps Jim Rice. As a Sox fan I was a huge Jim Ed fan and one of the several 81 Topps I had, become the wallet card of my youth. Still have it somewhere in a drawer.

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    1. Funny how you talk about Jim Ed. My absolute favorite was the 1980 Topps Jim Rice. I was 9 years old at the time and a big fan of drawing. I used to stare at that card for hours and interpret it myself on paper, just by copying it from eye, to hand, to paper. I have to see if I can find any of those sketches and post one or two. Great topic!!

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    2. MANY MIGHT NOT BE AWARE THE 1980 TOPPS GARY CARTER WAS ACTUALLY TAKEN IN 1977 ON ONE OF EXPOS FIELDS IN AN INTRASQUAD GAME AS YOU CAN PLAINLY SEE THE 1976 MONTREAL OLYMPICS PATCH ON RIGHT SHOULDER ( LEFT SIDE ) IN PHOTO …

      THE EXPOS ALWAYS WORE PREVIOUS YEAR TOPS IN FOLLOWING SPRING TRAINING SO THIS EXPLAINS PHOTO …

      WE WERE THERE SHOOTING THAT DAY SO KNOW THERE ARE MANY OTHER PHOTOS SHOWING EXPOS WEARING TOPS WITH 1976 SUMMER OLYMPICS PATCH SHOWING.

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  3. Finding redeemable soda bottles and taking them to the store for enough money to buy that pack of 1977 Topps Baseball Cards , that was my weekend delight. Opening that pack and seeing the ’77 Pete Rose. He’s down and ready to field. Awesome! BUT the one that stands out the most to me is the 1977 Jim “Catfish” Hunter. Who is he looking at and what are they saying? The expression on his face reminds me of how Fun this game is to all ages.

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  4. The 1961 Marv Throneberry card shows him catching the ball at first base for the Yankees. Funnys, because when he played for the Mets, he couldn’t catch the ball to save his life. That year the Mets lost 120 games.

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