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.
Gil Hodges, 1959 Topps
This one was submitted by Dodgers fan Jim Lloyd, who wrote:
"I was 9 years old [when I] discovered baseball and the Dodgers. My dad took me to my first Dodger game at the LA Coliseum. I loved Gil Hodges' No. 14, and that became my favorite number when I played."
The 1959 Topps set is instantly recognizable by its brightly colored borders, player names rendered in all lowercase type and unique circular images.
Hodges is depicted taking a swing while wearing the classic Dodgers home uniform and interlocking “LA” cap.
The 1959 season was the Dodgers’ second after moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and also Hodges’ last as a big league regular. He hit .276 with 25 homers and 80 RBIs in the regular season before posting a .391 average in the World Series as the Dodgers won their first title on the West Coast.
After two more seasons with the Dodgers, Hodges returned to New York with the expansion Mets. Hodges ended up managing the 1969 Mets to a stunning victory in the World Series and stayed on as the club’s skipper until his tragic passing from a heart attack in ‘72. -- Thomas Harrigan
Dodgers: Mike Piazza, 1993 Flair
You’ve gotta love a card that reads “Wave of the Future” with an actual wave in the background and a player from the Los Angeles Dodgers on the front. Piazza isn’t actually surfing the Pacific Ocean in the photo, but any time a card indicates a player is part of “the wave of the future,” and that player becomes a Hall of Famer, the scouting reports were right on and it makes for a great keepsake.
Flair was a fancier card produced by Fleer, building upon its Fleer Ultra set to bring to the market a more premium card to compete with other brands. The 1993 set was relatively small -- 300 cards -- but they were beautiful, glossy and thicker than standard baseball cards and included the “Wave of the Future” set, which featured 20 future stars. Among them were Piazza, Manny Ramirez, Trevor Hoffman and others.
Our own Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo submitted this gem, noting that this was one of maybe half a dozen cards that he remembers vividly as an avid collector when he was a kid.
“I remember it vividly,” DiComo wrote. “Piazza standing in his catcher’s gear with a big ocean wave crashing over him. I just thought that card was so cool, and even though I wasn’t a Dodgers fan, I loved Piazza because he was a late-round Draft pick and an Italian-American. That was definitely a memorable card.” -- Manny Randhawa
Iconic Dodgers card: Jackie Robinson, 1956 Topps
What a tremendous card. Even though it is a 1956 Topps, issued in the year of Robinson's final season, it has perhaps the most iconic Robinson play on the front -- the steal of home. The artwork is brilliant, and there is his signature printed across the art and adjacent to a head shot of Robinson.
Robinson, of course, needs no introduction. He was a legend both on the field and off, breaking MLB's color barrier in 1947 and paving the way for Black players to finally have their chance to shine in the Majors. He endured horrific discrimination and persevered, and even with all of that on his shoulders, Robinson was one of the best players in the game. He was named Rookie of the Year in '47, receiving an award that now bears his name.
Robinson played 10 MLB seasons, was the 1949 National League Most Valuable Player -- also winning the batting average crown that year -- and was a six-time All-Star. He helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to their first World Series title in franchise history in '55, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in '62. His number 42 is retired across baseball.
Robinson has such a hallowed place, not only in baseball lore but also in United States and world history, that any collectible of his is a cherished item. The 1956 Topps Robinson is no exception.
"I first saw this card in the mid '80s when I started collecting, and I immediately had to get one," wrote Victor D. of Los Angeles. "It's not his rookie or his rarest card, but I think it's hands down his best looking card and my all-time favorite ... and it still has the faint smell of bubble gum!"
The enormity of Robinson's legacy, which stretches far beyond the baseball diamond, is hard to fully comprehend. But whenever we can get our hands on a piece of Robinson memorabilia, what a privilege that is. With the 1956 Topps Robinson card, that memorabilia comes in the form of a gorgeously illustrated piece of art issued just before Robinson retired from the game.