Classic Padres card: Bip and the sombrero

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.

1990s throwback card: Bip Roberts, 1996 Score
“It's Bip Roberts in a sombrero. Need I say more?”

That was the short-and-sweet message we received from Chris Harris of Milton, Del., who submitted this classic card of the Padres’ utility man wearing a sombrero.

Why was Roberts donning that particular headwear? Sports Illustrated did a story in 2015 with the subjects of some well remembered sports cards, including Roberts, who explained the situation.

“We had Mexican Heritage Day and people were performing in costumes before the game," Roberts told SI. "I said to one of the dancers, ‘Let me see that sombrero,’ and I started doing the salsa. The Padres knew that was just me -- I used to dunk a beach ball over the outfield wall. They’d get mad about that, saying, ‘He’s going to get hurt!’ But the fans loved it. I’m really just humbled that such a little thing as a card could bring me so much joy.” -- Thomas Harrigan

, 1975 Topps
Winfield's Hall of Fame career made stops in several cities -- he played for the Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Twins and Indians before it was all said and done. But his career began in San Diego, where he made a name for himself as one of the game's greatest sluggers.

Coming out of the University of Minnesota, Winfield was such an incredible athlete that he was drafted by the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and the NFL's Minnesota Vikings in addition to the Padres. He chose baseball, and the rest is history.

Winfield's best season for the Padres came in 1979, when he finished third in NL MVP Award voting after posting a slash line of .308/.395/.558 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 118 RBIs. He also was selected as an All-Star for the third time and won the first of seven career Gold Glove Awards in the outfield.

Thanks to Paul W. of Westfield, Mass., for submitting this card of his favorite ballplayer. It's a great reminder of just how amazing Winfield was on the diamond. -- Manny Randhawa

The San Diego Chicken, 1982 Donruss
Ah, the Chicken. He really needs no introduction, but his is a fun story. It’s also timely -- he presented Joe West with a bouquet of flowers to congratulate West on becoming the all-time leader in MLB games umpired on May 25.

The Chicken is played by Ted Giannoulas, who played the character for the first time as a college student looking for work. A radio station paid him to wear the suit for some promotional events, and the rest is history. He became a national star, taking his comedic routine to major sporting events, concerts and even the White House on occasion.

This card captures the essence of the Chicken’s hilarity as he lies on a baseball field with a bat, a glove and a ball. Tim M. of Lakewood, Calif., submitted this card, and we’ll take his word for it that the Donruss card was “highly sought after in the summer of 1982.” -- Manny Randhawa

, 2008 Topps
Peavy was so electric in his prime. The Padres ace peaked with his NL Cy Young Award win in 2007, and this card is a tribute to that.

Peavy's '08 Topps card is laid out crisp and clean, with "Padres" in team-colored bubble letters on top, "NL Cy Young Award Winner" in gold on the bottom and Peavy pictured mid-pitch in between.

On the back are his stats from that Cy Young season, when he also won the NL pitching Triple Crown -- Peavy led the NL with 19 wins and led the Majors with a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 2007. What a year.

, 1988 Fleer
The Padres and surfing on the same card? It doesn’t get much more San Diego than that.

Flannery was born in Oklahoma but attended high school and college in Southern California before being selected by the Padres in the sixth round of the ‘78 Draft. He ended up spending 11 years in the Majors, all with the Friars, and collected 631 hits.

Flannery also was a surfing enthusiast, and his other passion was represented on his ‘88 Fleer card, which was submitted by Padres fan Jason Bugbee. Ironically, Bugbee made the opposite journey to Flannery, as he now resides in Oklahoma but was initially from San Diego.
-- Thomas Harrigan

Best Padres facial hair card: , 1979 Topps
Before he was “The Wizard of Oz” in St. Louis, Smith was a light-hitting shortstop with a sharp glove and even sharper sideburns in San Diego. You might have known Smith for his sweet 'stache rather than as the future Hall of Famer he’d go on to become if you collected his rookie card back in 1979, but those that held on to his card were rewarded with a great collector’s item.

Smith had a good, not great go-around in San Diego. While he never found the bat, he still managed to steal 147 bases in his time with the Padres. During the 1981 season in San Diego, he started to come into his own, winning his first Gold Glove and being named an All-Star for the first time.

Smith spent just four seasons with the Padres before being traded to the Cardinals prior to the 1982 season. As a Cardinal, he was a 14-time All-Star, won 11 Gold Gloves, earned an NLCS MVP Award and helped the team become World Series champions in 1982. It didn’t end up all bad for San Diego, though. The Friars received Garry Templeton in the return package, who went on to win a Silver Slugger and helped them reach the World Series in 1984 and was an All-Star in 1985. -- Nicholas Aguilera

Padres: , 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: , 1983 Topps
While there is nostalgia involved with many baseball cards, this one's different. We lost Gwynn 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.

, 1998 Fleer Ultra
Hoffman was one of the greatest closers of all time, ranking second in MLB history behind Mariano Rivera with 601 saves. For his 1998 Fleer Ultra card, however, he’s cosplaying as a catcher.

It’s just one in a long line of strange cards for the Hall of Famer, who has been pictured on cards doing all sorts of things unrelated to pitching, including playing the part of a photographer, dropping down a bunt and signing autographs.

It's unclear why Hoffman was wearing catchers gear, but he's clearly having a great time, and it certainly makes for a memorable card. -- Thomas Harrigan

1974 Padres, 1974 Topps
Wait, why does this card read "Washington, Nat'l. Lea."? The Padres are, you know, from San Diego. Well, let the person who submitted this card in our survey explain.

"When production of the set started, the Padres were rumored to be moving to Washington, D.C., but did not have a name," wrote Tim M. "Hence this team card without the Padres name and simply titled 'Washington National League.'"

Error cards can be rare and fun to own. This one is about as unique as they get.

Tito Fuentes, 1976 Topps
Fuentes didn’t have a particularly notable career; he hit .268 with 45 homers in 13 seasons, two of them with the Padres. But not many players were more stylish on the field.

Thanks to’s own Thomas Harding for submitting this card in our survey.

“That headband was the epitome of cool,” Harding wrote. “I loved headbands, anyhow, because cool basketball players wore them -- Wilt Chamberlain, Slick Watts. For him to get away with it over his cap. No way I could do that on my youth teams. Plus, I was fascinated with West Coast teams. We never got their results in the paper until a day late. Radio was the only way. By this time I was intrigued with players changing teams. Only drawback was the Padres had gotten rid of that gold uniform and were trying to look like everyone else.” -- Thomas Harrigan

, 1971 Topps
When someone asks you who the all-time home run leader in Padres history is, don't say Dave Winfield or Adrián González or someone. Say Nate Colbert. It's true -- Colbert launched 163 homers for San Diego from 1969-74, including a career-high 38 in 1970 and '72. He was a three-time All-Star from 1971-73, and finished eighth in NL MVP Award voting in '72.

You know you're a Padres lifer when this is your favorite baseball card. Thanks to Padres lifer Mitch S. for submitting this beauty in our survey.
-- Manny Randhawa

Mark Grant, 1988 Topps
Grant spent four seasons in San Diego, appearing in 126 games. He pitched to the tune of a 3.98 ERA, racking up 217 strikeouts from 1987-90. If you don’t recognize him from his work on the mound, that’s all right, because these days he’s more known for his work on the microphone.

No, “Mud” isn’t a famous rapper (although that would be awesome), but he has been a color commentator for the Padres since 1996. Grant and Don Orsillo make up one of the game’s most entertaining booths and provide plenty of entertainment on a nightly basis. And, as you can tell by his photo in his 1988 card, Grant hasn’t aged a bit over the past three decades. Maybe making baseball fans laugh is the fountain of youth.
-- Nick Aguilera

, 2007 Allen & Ginter
This is a really nice card of Maddux -- Allen & Ginter cards often are -- as the veteran pitcher poses with his arms folded on his knee.

Maddux didn't spend a whole lot of time in San Diego, only the 2007 season and part of '08, but he was an important part of the Padres' staff.

That first year, at age 41, he solidified the rotation behind ace and Cy Young winner Jake Peavy, going 14-11 with a 4.14 ERA in 198 innings. Maddux even won his 17th Gold Glove.

Dave Roberts, 1973 Topps
Roberts was the first overall pick in the 1972 MLB Draft and immediately made the leap to the Majors, debuting with the Padres on June 7, 1972. Although he hit .244 with five homers and a .595 OPS over 100 games as a rookie, Topps named Roberts to its All-Star Rookie team, as indicated by the trophy symbol on his '73 card.

The card depicts Roberts, clad in the all-yellow uniform the Padres wore in the early ‘70s, chasing a popup at Wrigley Field. It was mentioned in our survey by multiple fans, including Steve Vedder of Grand Rapids, Mich.

“Roberts was my favorite player, having gone directly from college to the Majors,” Vedder wrote. “When he played in Chicago I would listen to the static-filled broadcast on WGN to find out how Roberts was playing. I could visualize him playing there and then all of a sudden there was a baseball card showing him there. Good stuff for a young Padres fan!”

It was also submitted by Edward Fox of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., whose father was a cousin to Roberts. Having a professional baseball player in the family was obviously a big thrill for Fox when he was growing up in Oregon.

"I got to play whiffle ball with [Roberts] at family reunions," Fox wrote. "The bragging rights on the playground were all mine. I’ve collected all of his cards for prosperity and although they aren’t valuable they are priceless to me as a reminder of my childhood and all the times I got to tell my buddies that I know a pro ball player." -- Thomas Harrigan

Tony Gwynn, 1993 Flair
Tony Gwynn … bunting? The eight-time National League batting champ laid down only four sacrifice bunts after the 1990 season, so this 1993 card capturing a moment in which he was attempting one is a rarity, indeed. These Flair cards were gorgeous, representing the thicker-stock, elite-tier offering of Fleer that year in an era in which “super premium” cards were all the rage.

With the action shot of the player, as well as a profile shot as the watermark, these were truly beautiful. Gwynn’s profile is contemplative, and you can just see the wheels turning in his mind about something related to how he would approach his next at-bat against the specific pitcher he’d face.

KayDe R. of Moses Lake, Wash., submitted this card in our survey, and it has really special significance.

“I'm a huge Tony Gwynn fan,” KayDe wrote. “I bought this card around '97 or '98. When I moved back to San Diego (2010-13), I carried this card with me everywhere I went, just in case I ever ran into Mr. Padre. I never did.”

All around, a great card of one of the greatest hitters in the game’s history, one whom we miss every day. -- Manny Randhawa