You're the baseball in this Santiago card

April 15th, 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.

Padres: Benito Santiago, 1991 Topps

There are very few cards, if any, that give us the tremendous perspective that this 1991 Topps Benito Santiago gives us: the view of the baseball as it comes down into Santiago’s glove on a foul popout.

The 1991 Topps set was a commemorative one, with that year marking the 40th anniversary of Topps and providing unique photography as part of the celebration.

There are so many cool aspects of this one, including Santiago’s pose -- he’s just removed his mask and looked up to locate the ball. And the chalk outlines of the batter’s boxes and home plate behind him give a great depth to the overall perspective.

Seth P. of Victor, N.Y., submitted this beauty, and described well the big reason why it's memorable.

“In honor of the 40th anniversary of their initial set, they really put in the effort to use amazing photos for many of the marquee players,” Seth wrote. “It's, in my opinion, one of the best sets of the junk wax era.” -- Manny Randhawa

Iconic Padres card: Tony Gwynn, 1983 Topps
While there is nostalgia involved with many baseball cards, this one's different. We lost to cancer in 2014. He was not only one of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history -- he was also one of its nicest and most genuine people.

Gwynn was a standout in multiple sports in high school and college -- he was drafted by the hometown Padres out of San Diego State, but was also selected in the NBA Draft by the San Diego Clippers. Gwynn chose baseball, and we're so glad he did, because what we got to witness in his 20-year Major League career was excellence unparalleled by his peers. He was an eight-time batting champion, 15-time All-Star, and -- many people forget -- won five National League Gold Glove Awards. The right fielder was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Jerod M. is one of the fans who submitted this iconic baseball card, and emphasized in his survey response how grateful he is to have been able to watch Gwynn's career unfold and ultimately end in Cooperstown.

"The greatest hitter I've ever watched," Jerod wrote. "I’m very thankful I was able to watch him play in person several times."

The card itself has so much going for it. First of all, it's a Gwynn rookie card. But there's also a great head shot of Gwynn at the bottom left with the old brown and yellow Padres cap. And the action shot on the card is of Gwynn running out of the batter's box with what you know was one of three or four hits in the game. And he's wearing No. 53 in what is clearly a Spring Training game since he never played in a regular season game wearing any number other than 19 throughout his MLB career.

We all miss Tony Gwynn. And one of the ways we remember his incredible life is through the many baseball cards of him over the years. In this case, it's a magnificent Topps 1983 rookie card.