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.
Deion Sanders, 1992 Upper Deck
Wow. Look at this beauty. They don’t get much more creative than this -- a card featuring “Prime Time” in his element -- morphing from a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons into a center fielder for the Atlanta Braves as he takes his lead from first base.
The simplicity of this card is also a great feature -- there are no words except for the Upper Deck logo in the top-left corner of the card, which is in landscape mode. After all, no words are really needed when the art speaks volumes.
Patrick L. of Wake Forest, N.C., submitted this card and sums it up well:
“1992 Upper Deck Deion Sanders "Prime Times Two" -- I got this card out of a pack as a kid and it was one of the coolest cards (and still is) that I've ever owned.”
It’s one of the coolest cards, period. And it truly captures what Sanders accomplished as a two-sport star. Sanders stole 186 bases over 641 MLB games while also enjoying a 14-year Hall of Fame career in the NFL. He is the only athlete to ever play in both the World Series and the Super Bowl.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a card more reflective of Sanders’ unique talents than this one from the 1992 Upper Deck set. -- Manny Randhawa
Andruw Jones, 1998 Donruss Elite
In the '98 Donruss Elite card of Jones, you can see the Braves slugger's power. Jones' body is twisted toward the camera, his face straining as he follows through on his swing.
That swing produced 368 home runs over 12 seasons in a Braves uniform, but if you flip this card over and look at the back, you'll see only two seasons and 23 of those homers listed. Jones was just 21 years old entering the 1998 season. He'd just finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, but he had 10 Gold Glove Awards, a Silver Slugger Award and five All-Star seasons ahead of him.
The caption under Jones' statistics reads, "Andruw gave the Braves power, speed and strong defense as a '97 rookie. He has a powerful arm." How true those words proved to be.
For Todd Oxendine of Sumter, S.C., this card is extra special -- and it has Jones' signature on it: "He was my favorite player growing up. I got a chance to meet Andruw a few years ago in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at a Pelicans game during Braves weekend. I was like a kid in a candy store. He signed my card and a baseball and talked with me for a few minutes. One of the nicest players I've met."
Iconic Braves card: Hank Aaron, 1957 Topps
Aaron is the iconic Brave, and indeed, one of the most iconic figures in baseball history. The number 755 is etched in every baseball fan's mind as iconic in the game's history. That's how many home runs Hammerin' Hank hit over his legendary 23-season career. But the Aaron we see in this beautiful card is of a 23-year-old rising star who had 689 home runs still ahead of him.
The 1957 Topps set is simple and clean, with a white border and white lettering except for the player's last name and team, which are printed in yellow. What's weird is that Aaron's image was printed backwards, making him look like a left-handed hitter. Aaron, of course, hit from the right side. How can you tell that he isn't just holding the bat as if he was a lefty for the photo shoot? Check out the number on the front of his jersey, just below his arm -- Aaron wore No. 44, and you can see that there's a backwards 4 there. Sure, Aaron hit cross-handed when he was younger, but this is a step or two further than cross-handed.
Another great element to this card is that it's from 1957, the only year the Milwaukee Braves won the World Series, and the only time Aaron won it all -- though he helped lead the club back in a rematch against the Yankees the following year.
How did Aaron do in 1957, you ask? Well, the future home run king fittingly led the Majors with 44 homers (somehow, the only time in his career he led the Majors in homers; he did lead the National League three other times). He also led all of baseball in RBIs (132) and total bases (369), while leading the NL with 118 runs scored.
There have been a lot of Aaron cards over the years, but this one is a classic for many reasons, from its simple elegance, to its quirkiness with the image of Aaron backwards, to the special year Aaron had individually and with his club.