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.
Frank Thomas, 2007 Topps
The Big Hurt is best known for his time with the White Sox. He spent 16 years with the club, winning two MVP Awards and making five All-Star teams.
Thomas left Chicago to sign with the A’s after the ‘05 season, and while he wasn’t with Oakland long, he made a sizable impact, producing 39 homers with 114 RBIs and a .926 OPS and finishing fourth in the AL MVP voting in ‘06.
But Thomas’ career didn’t end there. He inked a two-year, $18 million deal with the Blue Jays after the ‘06 season. Although he hit his 500th career homer as a Blue Jay, his time in Toronto was otherwise forgettable, and the team actually released him before the end of his contract. Thomas re-signed with the A’s for the rest of the season before retiring.
Thomas’ ‘07 Topps card depicts the slugger in a Blue Jays uniform, lest you've forgotten that stage of his Hall of Fame career. -- Thomas Harrigan
Roy Halladay, 1999 Topps Chrome Rookie Rush
This is such a brilliant card of Halladay, coming off his debut season in 1998.
The stars swirling in the background and rainbow of colors refracting around Halladay, who's mid-windup and dressed in his blue and red Toronto uniform, just all looks great.
The "'99 Rookie Rush" streaking across the card behind Halladay's head remind you of his age at the time -- just 22 in 1999 -- as he was still four years away from winning the AL Cy Young Award for the Blue Jays in 2003.
Juan Guzman, 1996 Upper Deck
The giant glove made another appearance in ‘96, worn by Guzman on an Upper Deck card that was submitted by Joel Pfahler from Orrville, Ohio.
While Hatcher purportedly came to own the huge glove and would break it out to shag fly balls for laughs from time to time, it’s unclear why Guzman has one here. In any case, it makes for a memorable Blue Jays card. -- Thomas Harrigan
Pat Borders, 1994 Topps
Baseball is about many things. But one of the most important is family. How cool would it be if you were a fan of a particular team and one day, while at a Minor League game, you met the MVP from your favorite team’s first World Series championship? Now add that your child has a baseball card of his, and the former player not only signs it for him, but also chats with him and shows him pictures of his own kids?
That’s exactly what happened to Melissa S. of Youngstown, N.Y. She and her husband went to a Minor League game between the Batavia Muckdogs and the Williamsport Cutters of the New York-Penn league. Their son, who was 7 years old at the time, loved to scan the rosters of each Minor League team he went to see in case there were any former Blue Jays on it, since Toronto is the family’s favorite club. As he went down the roster list for Williamsport, he saw the following name next to the manager title: Pat Borders.
“He sprinted from the computer to his bedroom to get his Pat Borders card,” Melissa wrote. “When we got to the game, we sat next to the away team dugout and before the game started we waited by the dugout to see if Mr. Borders would sign my son’s card. Not only did he sign the card, he joked around with my children, asked us questions, and showed us pictures and videos of his family. Throughout the game, his players interacted with us, talking to us and giving my kids souvenirs. It is one of the most memorable baseball games we have ever been to, the kind we will never forget. I love looking at that baseball card and remembering that day.”
The card itself is not too shabby, either. If there was ever a classic pose for a catcher, this is it, with Borders -- the 1992 World Series MVP -- holding his catcher’s mask in his right hand while walking off the field with the look of a rugged backstop. -- Manny Randhawa
Best Blue Jays facial hair card: Jesse Barfield, 1986 Topps
Everything about this card has vintage style. Barfield's '80s mustache makes this a great facial hair card. And then there's his batting stance, the flat-brimmed Blue Jays cap and the design of the card itself -- the block-lettered, bold-colored Topps style of the time.
"The 1986 Topps series was the first set I collected by buying packs or trading individual cards from friends or hobby stores," says Matt Lapensee of Fairfield Township, Ohio, who submitted this card. "Barfield was my favorite player."
The 1986 season was the best of Barfield's career. He was the Majors' home run king, slugging 40 long balls, and was an All-Star for the only time in 12 big league seasons. Barfield was also the American League Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award winner in right field and the fifth-place finisher in MVP Award voting.
Clearly the 'stache gave him his power.
Doug Ault, 1978 Topps
This card was submitted by Christopher Bobal of Lee’s Summit, Mo., who was drawn in by the photo, which shows Ault stepping into the box against the Yankees while catcher Thurman Munson crouches behind the dish.
"The framing and colors are great," Bobal wrote. "You can just feel the game as he has one foot in the box while surveying the field. Add to it Thurman Munson is the catcher and looks to be contemplating what pitch to call next."
Ault is best known as the player who hit the first two homers in Blue Jays history on April 7, '77, his rookie season.
After Ault recorded 11 homers with 64 RBIs over 129 games in '77, Topps selected him as part of its All-Star Rookie team in the '78 set, so his card includes an "All-Star Rookie" trophy. Ault didn't last long as a big leaguer, playing his final MLB season in '80. -- Thomas Harrigan
Joe Carter, 1993 Donruss
There’s no moment quite like the final play to clinch a franchise’s first World Series championship. And this 1993 Donruss McDonalds’ Canada card, from a set that features many great moments from the 1992 World Series between the Blue Jays and Braves, captures that joyous moment for Toronto.
The final play of the '92 World Series was unique, in that it was an attempt to bunt for a hit -- speedy center fielder Otis Nixon tried to do that with two out in the bottom of the ninth in Game 6 at Fulton County Stadium. Reliever Mike Timlin fielded the ball and threw to Carter, who leaped for joy upon the ball hitting his glove.
It was the first World Series championship in Blue Jays history, and the first won by a team outside of the United States. The card gives the moment its due with its minimal interference with the photo itself -- just the McDonalds logo in the upper-left corner and the Donruss logo in the upper-right corner, as well as “Greatest Moments,” “Timlin to Carter,” and “Clincher” at the bottom.
Roger V. of Oshawa, Ontario submitted this beauty, and his reasoning goes right to the heart of what makes the card special: “Blue Jays are my team, so that’s a moment I will never forget.” -- Manny Randhawa
José Bautista, 2016 Topps
The photo for this card stops you in your tracks. It's Bautista's iconic bat flip as he crushed the go-ahead home run against the Rangers at Rogers Centre in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS. And it's captured in all its glory.
In the landscape-oriented card, you see Bautista's bat in mid-air. The Blue Jays' slugger has just flung it aside, and he's staring down the entire Rangers team in front of him.
In the background, the fans in Toronto are on their feet, arms raised high in the air as Bautista's drive sails deep into the left-field stands. It's a perfect moment in time. Well done, Topps.
Fred McGriff, 1989 Topps
McGriff began his career with Toronto and rose to stardom in a Blue Jays uniform, hitting 125 homers over 578 games with the club before being traded to the Padres with Tony Fernandez for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter after the 1990 season.
While McGriff’s first Topps card didn’t come until the 1987 set, the '86 Donruss set included McGriff with the iconic “Rated Rookie” logo.
Roy Lee Jackson, 1984 Fleer
This one's unique ... and mysterious. Jackson is shown on this card singing prior to a Blue Jays game against the Rangers in 1983. But as the Hardball Times wrote, there are some unanswered questions here, like: Who is the Rangers' catcher in the background? And who is the umpire? What was Jackson singing -- was it "Oh, Canada" or "The Star-Spangled Banner?"
In any event, Jackson could definitely sing. He was also a solid right-hander who spent 10 seasons in the Majors, pitching for the Mets, Padres and Twins in addition to the Jays.
"This card has it all," wrote Michael H., who submitted it in our survey. "Lots to be said about this card and how great it is -- the powder-blues, catcher, umpire in the background and the microphone stand.”
Now if we could just figure out who those guys are in the background.
Roy Halladay, 1997 Bowman
This Halladay rookie card is quite something -- it was actually issued the year before he made his MLB debut, and has a scouting report on the back that includes some interesting factoids -- one of them is that Halladay was also a great basketball player in high school, making Second Team All-State in Colorado.
And you've got to love the description of Halladay, who was ultra-competitive when he was dominating on the mound: "Big, durable and combative."
Halladay would go on to win two Cy Young Awards, throw two no-hitters (a perfect game during the 2010 regular season, followed by one of two postseason no-hitters in baseball history that October) and was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.
Thanks to David B. of East Chicago, Indiana for submitting this great entry. -- Manny Randhawa
Carlos Delgado, 1993 Upper Deck
It’s always interesting to see how a star player looked in the early days of their career, and this card provides a glimpse at a young Delgado, who was photographed holding multiple bats while leaning on the bat rack in the dugout.
Those who are unfamiliar with Delgado's backstory might be surprised to see him identified as a catcher. Delgado came up through Toronto's system as a backstop before eventually settling in as the team's first baseman.
Delgado amassed only 260 plate appearances from 1993-95 and had 12 homers with a .678 OPS in that span, but he broke out in '96, socking 25 homers with an .843 OPS. He's the franchise leader in a number of major categories, including homers (336), doubles (343), walks (827), RBIs (1,058) and OPS (.949). -- Thomas Harrigan
Paul Molitor, 1995 Donruss
Molitor was only a Blue Jay for three of his 21 MLB seasons (1993-95), and toward the end of his Hall of Fame career. But he made them count, especially the first one, when he helped Toronto win its second consecutive World Series title.
The veteran infielder led the Majors with 211 hits while slashing .332/.402/.509 with 22 homers, 111 RBIs and 22 steals to earn the sixth of seven career All-Star selections.
Jeffrey C. of Toronto submitted this card in our survey, and notes its rarity.
"I live in Toronto and have been an enormous Blue Jays fan from Day One," Jeffrey wrote. "I love this Paul Molitor card as it is a ‘2/2’... Besides bringing back memories of the World Series years, it makes me wonder where 'the other one' is."
Now he's got us wondering the same thing. -- Manny Randhawa
Edwin Encarnación, 2016 Topps Now
This card instantly commemorated one of the biggest highlights in recent Blue Jays history: Encarnación's walk-off home run against the Orioles in the 2016 AL Wild Card Game.
Autographed by Encarnación and inscribed with the words "WC Walk-Off," only a limited number of the cards were made. In the photo, Encarnación raises his arm in the air following his home run as the Toronto fans cheer behind him.