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.
Astros: Casey Candaele, 1993 Upper Deck
Candaele is probably not the first player you think of when you think of Astros cards. But this card is a great example of how beautiful the 1993 Upper Deck set is. Each card has “Upper Deck” at the top, with the letters spaced out. And each image has a sort of “3-D” look to it because it is in the foreground of the card -- in other words, the “Upper Deck” is always behind the player.
This card, in particular, is special for its amazing action shot, capturing Candaele leaping for a line drive at shortstop during a game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Whether it’s an illusion created by the photo or his actual vertical, Candaele could jump. To top it off, the baseball is just in between the words “Upper” and “Deck.”
There are many cards in this set that have incredible visual appeal, but this one is unique. Jared of Pensacola, Fla., submitted this card in our survey, and he summed it up best.
“I grew up a huge Astros fan, still am,” Jared wrote. “Would gravitate to anything Astros and I thought it was just the coolest card when I was little.”
That’s it, right there: This is just the coolest card. -- Manny Randhawa
Iconic Astros card: J.R. Richard, 1980 Topps
Standing 6-foot-8 and pairing 100 mph gas with an electric slider, Richard was an imposing force on the mound for the Astros.
Despite some control problems, the right-hander became one of the National League’s premier pitchers in the late 1970s, averaging 18 wins, 281 innings and 261 strikeouts per season while posting a 2.88 ERA from ’76-79. He is one of nine pitchers in the Modern Era (since 1900) to reach the 300-strikeout mark in multiple seasons.
Richard was en route to another brilliant campaign before he suffered a stroke on July 30, 1980, causing a sudden end to his career.
Richard’s 1980 Topps card was submitted by Craig Maguire of Olean, N.Y.
“This is my favorite card because this was the year I started collecting them as a kid. The Astros were my favorite team, but being from New York, I didn’t have much opportunity to see them live or on TV, so the cards were my attachment to the team. Even as a 10 year old, I could see by that high leg kick and imposing figure, J.R. was mean business,” Maguire wrote. -- Thomas Harrigan