Classic Nats card: Pedro in '96

December 9th, 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.

Pedro Martinez, 1996 Upper Deck

While Martinez went into the Hall of Fame with a Red Sox cap, he first rose to prominence with Montreal.

Before being traded to the Red Sox in November 1997, Martinez posted a 3.06 ERA with a 9.5 K/9 over four seasons with the Expos, winning the NL Cy Young Award in his final year with the club.

This 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice card, released the same year he earned his first All-Star selection, provides a great look at the wiry right-hander delivering a pitch in Montreal's road uniform. -- Thomas Harrigan

Andres Galarraga, 1986 Leaf

There is just so much to love about this card -- the “Big Cat,” the amazing Expos uniform he’s wearing, the determined look on his face and the fact that we’re looking at a Leaf “Rated Rookie” because that was such an indelible way of identifying rookies in Leaf/Donruss sets.

Eduardo B. of San Cristóbal, Venezuela, is a big Galarraga fan, as are many in the Cat’s native country. There are also many Galarraga fans in Montreal, Denver, Atlanta and other cities in which he became a fan favorite with his megawatt smile and huge power at the plate.

“Andres Galarraga is my favorite all-time player -- I’m a big fan of the ‘Big Cat,’ and this beauty 'Rated Rookie' card is on the top of my favorite cards,” Eduardo wrote.

The Big Cat got his nickname for his cat-like reflexes at first base despite his size, which certainly helped him launch his 399 career homers. -- Manny Randhawa

Gary Carter, 1993 Topps

Carter played his final game in 1992, but Topps included him in its ‘93 set, and the card is a doozy. It depicts the veteran catcher holding the ball in the air after blocking a sliding Fred McGriff at home plate as a dirt cloud wafts into the air.

Two All-Stars, two great nicknames -- The Kid and Crime Dog -- and a stellar action shot ... what more could you want?

“Carter was in his last year of a Hall of Fame career, and even at 38, he was still a gritty gamer,” wrote Howard Huth from Richmondville, N.Y., who submitted the card. -- Thomas Harrigan

Frank Robinson, 2003 Topps

Robinson made a lot of history, both as a player and as a manager -- he remains the only player in MLB history to win MVP Awards in both leagues, and in 1975, he became the first Black manager in MLB history when he took the helm in Cleveland. When most people think of Robinson as a skipper, they think of his time with Cleveland, the Giants and the Orioles.

Robinson managed in Cleveland from 1975-77. He then managed San Francisco from 1981-84, and Baltimore -- where he won an MVP Award as a player -- from 1988-91.

But not so many people remember he was also the final manager for the Montreal Expos, and the first for the Washington Nationals. Robinson became the Expos’ manager in 2002, and managed the club through ’06, its second season in Washington. Overall, he went 385-425 with the club, guiding it through its relocation transition.

Brett S. of Cleveland submitted this card in our survey, and got right to the point about why:

“I loved manager cards.”

We do, too, Brett. We do, too. -- Manny Randhawa

Vladimir Guerrero and Andruw Jones, 1995 Topps

Prospect cards depicting multiple up-and-coming young players together have been a common feature of card sets for decades, but it’s not often that you see one like this 1995 Topps card that has multiple players who went on to become big stars.

Submitted by Teddy Lockart of Shelbyville, Ill., the card shows Vladimir Guerrero and Andruw Jones among the four prospects. Guerrero and Jones were both a year away from their Major League debuts with the Expos and Braves, respectively. 

Guerrero went on to a Hall of Fame career, while Jones was a five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner. Jones is still on the BBWAA ballot, jumping to 33.9% of the vote in 2021, his fourth year of eligibility.

Billy McMillon and Brian Banks round out the quartet on this card. Both reached the Majors but played only six years each. -- Thomas Harrigan

Tim Raines, 1981 Donruss

Raines stole 808 bases in a 23-year Hall of Fame career, and he’s best known for his great years with the Expos -- for whom he swiped 635 of those bags and earned all of his seven career All-Star selections. The two-time World Series champion spent 12 seasons with Montreal before playing for the White Sox, Yankees, A’s, Orioles and Marlins.

Carl B. of Quebec City submitted this card of his favorite player, and it’s easy to see why (other than the fact that Raines is his favorite player) -- look at the beautiful powder blue Expos uniform with what appears to be Wrigley Field in the background. And the border with the old-school Donruss “d” in the upper-left corner is classic.

The pose Raines strikes is stoic, as if to say, “I’m gonna go 4-for-4 and steal 4 bases today.”

He might actually have said that. -- Manny Randhawa

Gary Carter, 1977 Topps

Let's go back to the Expos days of the franchise for this classic card. It's a great photo of Carter. The late Hall of Famer, always affable, squats in his Montreal uniform, catcher's mitt wide open as it rests on his knee, a smile splashed across his face.

Carter was only 23 years old in 1977. He was about to go on his run of 10 straight All-Star seasons that began in Montreal in '79 and ended with the Mets in '88, a stretch that included three Gold Glove Awards and five Silver Slugger Awards, too.

The vintage Topps card design complements Carter's photo beautifully. The red, white and blue of the Expos uniform are echoed in the text and border on the front of the card. Carter's signature is displayed across the middle of the card, standing out perfectly against the white of his uniform.

Carl Breton of Quebec City, Canada, loves this card because of that -- "for the old design and the signature" -- and thinks it did a franchise icon justice.

"What a player -- so much passion for the game," he writes.

Terry Francona, 1986 Topps

Many of us think of Tito Francona as the guy who led the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years back in 2004, as well as the current manager of the Guardians (though he's currently away dealing with medical issues). But Francona was a first baseman/outfielder for 10 seasons in the Majors before his managerial career began.

Francona's MLB career began with the Expos, for whom he made his big-league debut in 1981, when Montreal reached the NLCS against the Dodgers. This card is pretty awesome for multiple reasons -- the Expos' uniforms are always tremendous, and then there's this other detail mentioned by's own Matt Meyers, who submitted it in our survey:

"Terry Francona, Topps 1986 set. A) Because it's Terry Francona on the Expos, which is cool. B) It looks like a toy bat."

Need we say more?

Randy Johnson, 1989 Topps

Before he was the Big Unit, before he threw a no-hitter and a perfect game 14 years apart, before he won five Cy Young Awards and before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with more strikeouts than any left-handed pitcher in baseball history, Johnson was an Expo.

Montreal selected the 6-foot-10 southpaw in the second round of the 1985 Draft out of USC, and at first, he was as wild with his control as they come. Combine the wildness with the fact that he had a triple-digit fastball, and that's a recipe for trouble.

Fortunately for Johnson, he turned things around after joining the Mariners, where he rose to stardom before cementing himself as one of the all-time greats with an incredible run with the D-backs at the turn of the century.

Thanks to Chris M. of Tampa for submitting this rookie card in our survey. -- Manny Randhawa

Kirk Rueter, 1996 Fleer Ultra

Sometimes your favorite athlete may not be one of the best in the sport. Sometimes it's the guy from a small town near where you grew up. That's exactly why Robert K. of Pinckneyville, Ill., chose this Rueter card as his favorite for our survey.

"Kirk is from Nashville, Ill., and as a kid my mom was able to get this card signed for me," Robert wrote. "It was awesome to think that a professional athlete could come from one of our small towns in Southern Illinois."

Rueter enjoyed a 13-year MLB career in which he pitched for the Expos and Giants. He finished with a 4.27 ERA and helped San Francisco reach the postseason four times. -- Manny Randhawa

Nationals inaugural season set, 2005 Topps

Sure, this isn’t technically a card -- it’s an entire set. But it’s certainly a special one since it was the first Topps set featuring players from the Nationals after the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005.

“My favorite baseball card isn't just one card,” wrote Matt D. of Niagara Falls, N.Y., in his submission for our survey. “It is a set. I've been following the Nationals since the Expos days in 2001-02. I wanted to start out my Nationals collection the minute I heard they were moving to DC. My aunt worked at our local library and someone put a pack of the Washington Nationals’ 2005 Inaugural Season Topps baseball cards in the return box, so naturally, she gave them to me. They're still sealed!”

And how about the memories just from the cover? Livan Hernandez, Nick Johnson and Jose Vidro? Talk about remembering some guys. -- Manny Randhawa