Ok I lied.
This was to be the final installment in our three part series covering the 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie Team. Well you know how movie companies break up the final film of blockbuster trilogies into two parts so they can bring in more coin, well that is happening here – minus the money.
Yes this was to be the final installment of my 1963 Topps Rookie All-Star (TRAS) series, but I had to much for one post so I am breaking the banquet into two parts. Okay enough prologue, onward…
The 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie Banquet
I don’t know this for a fact but I am guessing that today’s players don’t even know if they make the Topps All-Star Rookie team.
Things were different in 1963, During the early years of the Topps Rookie All-Star team the winners were rewarded with a trip to New York City for a trophy presentation at the Waldorf Astoria!
November 9, 1963 article by Carl Lundquist in The Sporting News chronicled the event. Tommy Harper was among the nine Rookie All-Stars that attended the banquet and there are pictures to prove it. Of course the pictures are likely only out there on the interwebs because Harper’s teammate happened to be the NL Rookie of the Year and would go on to become quite infamous…
Tommy Harper and Pete Rose at the Topps Rookie All-Star Banquet (1963 OCT 24)
Check out Tommy & Pete and look in front of them, those are the Topps Rookie All-Star trophies. Before I got interested in the TRAS I didn’t realize that there was a real trophy involved. And hey the icon featured on the cards looks like the trophy. Except that I never realized that the trophy includes a top hat for some reason. There appears to be a larger version of the trophy behind Harper and Rose’s hands. I imagine that is either there as a Topps centerpiece or to honor Pete Rose as NL Rookie of the Year. The hat on that trophy looks like it would big enough for Pete to wear. I am guessing that the two were photographed together since they were Reds teammates at the time.
The rest of the All-Stars can be seen here.
1963 Topps Rookie All-Stars (1963 OCT 24)
Front Row (L->R): Billy Cowan (minor league player of the year), Jimmie Hall, Pete Rose, Jesse Gonder, Tommy Harper. Back row (L->R): Rusty Staub, Gary Peters, Ray Culp, Vic Davalillo. Not pictured Al Weis.
1963 was the fifth time Topps held TRAS banquet. The event was held on Thursday October 24th 1963 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. There also happened to be another noteworthy baseball event that happened that day in NYC:
1964 Topps #21 Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra got hired as Manager of the New York Yankees. The Yankees made the official announcement at the Savoy Hilton on the South East corner of Central Park. Immediately following the press conference Yogi trekked across the park to the Waldorf and appeared at the Topps Rookie All-Star banquet as a surprise guest.
His remarks included:
“The greatest thrill of my life happened today when I was named manager of the great New York Yankees.”
It would take less than a year for that statement to turn from Bold to Sad as Yogi would be relieved as manager despite leading the Yankees to an AL pennant and pushing Bob Gibson and the Cardinals to 7 games in the World Series.
Other luminaries that attended the banquet were Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Frankie Frisch, Topps executives Sy Berger and Joel J. Shorin, and organized baseball representatives such as Frank Shaughnessy, Ed Short, Joe McKenney, and Dave Grote.
Baseball Ambassador Joe Garagiola served as emcee for the event.
In addition to the honoring the Rookie All-Stars, Topps also bestowed the Minor League Player of the Year award to Billy Cowan (Salt Lake City Bees / Cubs). Elston Howard was designated a “Most Value Fellow” by Topps who gave the Yankees catcher and 1963 AL MVP a giant trading card. The card contained the caption “Nice Guys Finish First.”
This is Tommy Harper’s first solo card, he appears on a 4-up in 1963 Topps falling at #158. Solid representation of the 1964 Topps Set, this appears to be a shot taken at Spring Training. If I was going to complain I would mention that the nameplate at the bottom of the card cuts off Harper’s glove. Otherwise a decent shot, featuring Tommy Harper in the great sleeveless Reds Jersey of the era.
1964 Topps #330 Tommy Harper (b-side)
The back copy mentions Harper’s TRAS selection along with his minor league run scoring crowns. There is also a general trivia question: Who was the Twins HR King the previous season? It is exactly who you think it is, Harmon Killebrew who had 45 Homers in 1963. In fact Killebrew has the top 6 Home Run hitting seasons for the Twins and is also tied for 7th: 42 in 1959 (Senators) with Roy Sievers (1957 also Sens) and current Twin Brian Dozier (2016)
1963 Topps Rookie All-Stars
As mentioned this is part 3 of our short series on the 1963 Topps Rookie All-Star team. To see the remainder of the series click the links below:
Part 1: The Cards (Rusty Staub)
Part 2: The Voting (Jesse Gonder w/ Phantom Trophy)
Phungo 1963 Topps Rookie Cup Index
The Sporting News 1963 Nov 9 (Carl Lundquist) and other issues.
The Topps Archive
Baseball Card Database