Classic Cubs card: KB rookie card

April 21st, 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.

Kris Bryant, 2015 Topps

Bryant's 2015 Topps rookie card just looks sharp. The 23-year-old Bryant, in his trademark batting stance, stares out at the pitcher, in his white pinstriped Cubs uniform and blue and red batting helmet, as the bat cuts across the top-left corner of the frame.

The Cubs' iconic blue-and-red colors look great no matter what, and they're echoed by the border around the bottom half of the card, which also features Topps' famous MLB rookie card stamp and the Cubs' logo emanating a red aura.

Bryant was the NL Rookie of the Year in that '15 season. The next season, he was the NL MVP and led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. He was the superstar at the center of one of the greatest seasons in Cubs history.

That led Keithan Sharp of Olathe, Kan., to submit this card of his favorite player: "My parents gave it to me as a gift for my 14th birthday," Keithan says. "I've always thought it is so cool to have a rookie card of my favorite player, who also just happened to win Rookie of the Year, MVP and a World Series."

Dave Kingman, 1979 Topps

Known for his impressive power and propensity for striking out, Kingman played for seven teams over 16 years in the Majors and hit 442 homers.

Kingman reached new heights for the Cubs in ‘79, crushing a Major League-leading 48 home runs. On a Chicago club that went 80-82 and missed the playoffs for the 34th straight season, the outfielder was the main attraction, and Chicago’s Ken Fitzner had to have Kingman’s card from that year’s Topps set, which shows the slugger (sans mustache) stepping to the plate at Wrigley Field with a big smile on his face.

“I was in third grade and became a huge fan of the Cubs, because my dad was a huge Cubs fan,” Fitzner wrote. “In those days the Cubs being awful was the norm. Then something magic happened. The Cubs left fielder began crushing home runs. My dad would call him King Kong. Every day when school let out I would try to get home as fast as possible to catch a little bit of the Cubs game. Most days I would not buy milk for lunch at school and would take my quarter, stop at the local five and dime, and buy a pack of Topps trading cards. The goal, a 1979 Dave Kingman card.

“For over a month I would buy packs, chew the gum and flip through to find no magic Dave Kingman card in the pack. Oh sure, a George Foster, but no Kingman. One day, I bought a pack of cards and decided to wait until I got home to open it. When I did the wrapper slowly revealed the Kingman card right on top. I literally started jumping around the house to my mom’s dismay. But I had it, my ‘79 Dave Kingman card and I still have it to this day.” -- Thomas Harrigan

Iconic Cubs card: Ernie Banks, 1959 Topps

When you think Ernie Banks, you probably think about the phrase "Let's play two!" Banks loved doubleheaders, and between his love of being on the field and the historic franchise he played for, all the ingredients are there for a classic card that inspires nostalgia among baseball fans. That's exactly what you get with the 1959 Topps Ernie Banks, which shows Banks playing catch, and there's a prominent green border around the circular photo. The grass-green border and the Cubs blue stand out beautifully.

Phil G. of Frederick, Md., grew up just outside Chicago in the 1960s, and Banks was his hero. Phil submitted this gorgeous card, which he acquired in a trade with a friend when he moved to New York.

"I was so thrilled, because I had never seen it before, and Banks looks like a kid!" Phil wrote in his survey response. "I guess on some level, I must have known that there were numerous Ernie Banks cards that were older than the ones I had (1969, 1970, 1971), but there wasn't any way to have seen them. Anyway, I had to try to contain my enthusiasm, lest my trading partner decide he could command a higher return for the card. It's been my favorite ever since."

Banks had a spectacular career that spanned 19 seasons, all with the Cubs. He was a two-time National League MVP Award winner, selected as an All-Star in 11 of his 19 seasons, twice led the Majors in homers (47 in 1958, 41 in 1960) and launched 512 homers for Chicago. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

The 1959 Topps card bearing Banks' image is worthy of a Hall of Famer of his stature -- it also includes his signature printed on the front, as well as one of the great Cubs logos of all time, the cartoon head of a bear cub.

When you hear "Let's play two!" this is a great baseball card to have come to mind.