Classic Angels card: Cowan and his halo

April 22nd, 2021

As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, we've asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards, and we've broken them down by team. We'll be revealing submissions regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.

Billy Cowan, 1972 Topps

While Cowan played only 173 games and hit 13 homers over four years with the Angels, the outfielder’s 1972 Topps card left a lasting impression on Doug Wulf of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“A favorite card of mine -- way back to when I got it out of a pack as a kid -- was the 1972 Billy Cowan," Wulf said. "I always appreciated the cleverness of the photographer to set up that shot, where the halo from the ‘Big A’ -- then beyond center field at the Angels' stadium -- appeared to be a halo over Cowan’s head.”

As Wulf notes, the famous "Big A" sign initially was situated beyond the outfield fence at then-Anaheim Stadium, allowing for this fun and memorable shot of Cowan.

The sign was moved to the parking lot in 1979, as the stadium was retrofitted to make it suitable for football games before the Los Angeles Rams starting playing there. It still stands there to this day. -- Thomas Harrigan

Angels: Mike Trout, 2020 Topps

How would you like to have two autographs on one card? How about autographs from two of the greatest players in baseball history, from different generations? That’s what this incredible card features.

There have been and will continue to be comparisons of Trout with many of the greatest players of all time, and Hank Aaron is, of course, in that elite category. On this card, we get both of them, prompting a video-game-like thought exercise in which we imagine what it would be like to have both of them playing in the same era.

On top of the beauty of the card with the signatures at the center, there’s a great symmetry to its design -- Aaron is captured in a pose showing he has just smashed a drive to the outfield, and on the other end of the card, Trout is looking up and chasing after a deep drive. Will Aaron's drive land over the wall? Will Trout rob it with a spectacular catch?

Just a beautiful card with star power that few other cards in history could match. And to have it autographed by both legends is almost too great to comprehend. -- Manny Randhawa

Iconic Angels card: Mike Trout, 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects set

The 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects set is well known among collectors. The one-of-a-kind Trout Superfractor card from this set sold for $3.9 million in 2020, breaking the previous record of $3.12 million set by the famous T206 Honus Wagner card in ’16. (The record has since been broken again by Mickey Mantle's rookie card from the '52 Topps set, which sold for $5.2 million in January.)

The X-Fractor version of this card, which was submitted by Erik Hamby of Henderson, Nev., is less rare (there are 225 of them). But with Trout looking like a surefire Hall of Famer, the X-Fractor version is highly coveted in its own right, so much so that selling a few of them helped Hamby make enough money to buy a new car.

It’s one of the reasons Hamby considers the card, which depicts Trout at the plate with the Rookie-level Arizona League Angels in 2009 (the outfielder's first professional season), to be his favorite. Another reason? It looks cool.

“I love this card because I personally think it’s the best looking card I’ve ever seen,” Hamby wrote. “For some reason the X-Fractor design just really worked that year. Another reason it’s my favorite is because … [I] was able to buy a new Subaru Crosstrek by selling 4 of them in 2018 and I never paid more than $125 for any of them.” -- Thomas Harrigan