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.
To begin the series we'll be looking at one iconic card from each team.
Iconic Rays card: Evan Longoria, 2016 Topps Tier One Prime Performers Autographs set
This one was submitted by Tampa, Fla., resident Robert Valentin, who wrote:
“My favorite baseball card is Evan Longoria signed Topps Tier One. When I moved to Tampa, Evan Longoria was a rookie and the Rays were making a push towards the World Series. He just seemed always to come through in the clutch. [It was] part of what made me a huge Rays fan, and an Evan Longoria fan.”
Longoria is the best player in Rays history, leading the club in Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement (51.8), games played (1,435), homers (261), RBIs (892) and a host of other categories.
The Rays had a losing record in each of their first 10 seasons, but Longoria’s debut in 2008 helped spark a turnaround. Tampa Bay won 97 games in Longoria’s first season, with Longoria winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and went on to reach the Fall Classic.
Longoria delivered one of the biggest hits in franchise history in 2011, hitting a Game 162 walk-off homer against the Yankees to put the Rays in the playoffs. His Rays tenure came to an end after the '17 season, when he was traded to the Giants.