'Tom Terrific' on this gem of a 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.

Tom Seaver, 1969 Topps

If there’s any card that says “Tom Terrific,” it’s this one.

Seaver, the great Hall of Fame right-hander, passed away last year, leaving a tremendous legacy both on and off the field. Over a career that spanned 20 years, he won three National League Cy Young Awards, was a 12-time All-Star, won 311 games and struck out 3,640 batters. He later became a broadcaster with NBC and throughout it all was an inspiration to countless individuals, both inside and outside baseball.

This card captures a 24-year-old Seaver in the year he would win his first Cy Young Award. He is looking off into the distance and the simple elegance of the photo and the design of this Topps set complement the type of pitcher and man Seaver was.

Rich N. of Burlington, Vt., submitted this card and said there’s a reason why it’s so worn.

“This card really started my life-long love of baseball,” Rich wrote. “I rooted like crazy for Tom Seaver and the Mets all summer and through October. You can see the card is well-worn. That's because I took it out and held on to it all through the playoffs and World Series. And Tom Seaver became my all-time favorite baseball player -- I never stopped following and rooting for him throughout his career. I have cards that are worth more money than this one, but I love this card the most.” -- Manny Randhawa

Darryl Strawberry, 1984 Topps

You have to love the look of this card. Strawberry is just finishing his sweet swing, wearing the Mets' classic white pinstriped uniforms with the bold blues and oranges standing out on the Mets logo, No. 18 uniform number and stripes down the sides of the uni.

Topps' '84 cards also featured great design work. On Strawberry's, the photo of his swing is framed by "Mets" printed vertically down the left side of the card, the Topps logo inset into the top-right corner, a young Straw's face inlaid on the bottom-left and "Darryl Strawberry, OF" printed across the bottom-right.

The card also preserves a great time in Mets history. Strawberry had just won the 1983 NL Rookie of the Year Award, and he would soon lead the Mets to the '86 World Series championship.

That's what inspired one Mets fan to submit this card: "It displayed that awesome Strawman swing follow-through, and for me symbolized that greatest of Mets teams from growing up as a kid."

Iconic Mets card: Dwight Gooden, 1986 Topps

This one was submitted by Dave Mace from New York, who wrote:

"I’m the same age as Dwight Gooden and I watched every game he pitched in 1985. He was so dominant and I loved watching the K's go up at Shea with each strikeout. The crowd size at the stadium was larger by thousands when Doc pitched because it was almost always a masterful performance."

There are few players more associated with a specific team and era than Doc Gooden and the Mets of the mid-80s.

Gooden came up in 1984 and decimated anybody who dared step in the box against him. He went 17-9 with 276 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA. His curveball became known as "Lord Charles." He had his own Shea Stadium cheering section. He struck out the side in the All-Star Game and won the NL Rookie of the Year.

He somehow got even better in 1985 -- putting up a record of 24-4, compiling an unbelievably miniscule 1.53 ERA while striking out 268 batters. He won the NL Cy Young. He was 20 and on top of the world.

His 1986 Topps baseball card had all these feats and stats packed into it. He would have some other great years -- including an excellent '86 season -- but nothing like the wunderkind brilliance of '84 and '85. Even though his '85 rookie is maybe the most famous and valuable, this card stood for the pinnacle of his career; he has a confident, unfazed look as he glares into the trembling hitter 60 feet, 6 inches away. He even won his first World Series the year of the card.

Mace was heartbroken when Gooden signed with the crosstown Yankees in 1996 -- a team he vowed to never watch. But during one day that year, he decided to go to a game to see his favorite player pitch.

"I would never go watch the team in the Bronx play but a friend convinced me to go since Doc was starting," Mace wrote. "My only time in Yankee Stadium was in May ‘96 and Dr. K threw a no-hitter! I keep his card in the top drawer of my desk just in case I ever need a walk down memory lane with one of the great pitchers."