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.
Aroldis Chapman, 2010 Bowman Chrome
This Chapman rookie card is the flamethrowing closer's first one made by Bowman. The young lefty is wearing a Reds cap and uniform over a shirt and tie, a smile across his face.
Chapman would soon start throwing 100 mph fastballs and racking up saves in Cincinnati -- he had four straight 30-save seasons for the Reds from 2012-15, and was an All-Star all four years.
His 2010 debut season is also when Chapman threw the fastest pitch on record (pitch tracking started in 2008), a 105.8 mph fastball.
This card was submitted by Reds fan Nicholas Costello of Cincinnati, who remembers watching Chapman all the way back then. He got to meet Chapman, who signed the card for him.
"This card is my favorite because I got to see Chapman pitch in Cincy starting his career," he says. "I also got the card signed by him in person, at Redsfest!" -- David Adler
Frank Robinson, 1962 Topps
This one was submitted by Terry Griffith of Dayton, Ohio. Griffith wrote:
“Growing up as a Reds fan in the late 1950s & early 1960s, Frank Robinson was THE player to watch and always was my favorite player. Following his MVP season, he put up even better offensive numbers in 1962. One of the greatest players of all time and still my favorite player of all time.”
Recognizable by its woodgrain borders, the ‘62 Topps set is big on star power, with Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente and Roger Maris -- fresh off his 61-homer season -- all part of it. It also features rookie cards for future Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Gaylord Perry.
Robinson won the NL MVP Award for the Reds in ‘61, then improved upon his stats in most major categories the following year, as Griffith notes.
His ‘62 Topps card depicts the right-handed slugger completing a swing and gazing into the distance, as if he just hit a titanic blast. He had a lot of practice perfecting that look over the years, with 586 career home runs. -- Thomas Harrigan
Iconic Reds card: Johnny Bench, 1969 Topps
This is a beautiful card. There is so much to love -- a young Johnny Bench posing in the catcher's squat, Crosley Field with the advertisements on the outfield walls, Bench right along the left-field line, and how about that uniform? It's no wonder this is a favorite of so many, including Don from Iberia, Ohio, Alex G. from New York City and Seth from Cincinnati.
Considered by many to be the greatest catcher in baseball history, as well as a huge cog for the "Big Red Machine" Reds, who won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and '76, the '69 Topps card captures Bench at 20 years old, just before he won the '68 National League Rookie of the Year Award.
"Bench was like a superhero behind the plate growing up, incomparable, and that card of him so young yet so good, a rising star coming out of the '60s kind of encapsulates a time for me," wrote Alex.
Seth has a great memory of this card being his favorite in a collection in his father's office while he was growing up.
"In the bottom right drawer [of the desk] there were about nine sheets of baseball cards he was able to save from his own childhood," Seth wrote. "There were plenty of treasured cards in there that hadn’t suffered their demise in the spokes of a bike, but this was the only one I cared about. I imagine I went into that office about once a week for a decade to look at this card. It’s tattered and worn, exactly like an old catcher’s mitt, but it’s Johnny Bench, and it’s amazing."
Bench, of course, needs no introduction. The Hall of Famer spent 17 seasons behind the plate for Cincinnati, winning the NL MVP Award in both 1970 and '72. He was also a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, a 14-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1976 World Series against the Yankees.
Bench had it all when it came to slugging and catching, just like this 1969 Topps card of his has it all when it comes to aesthetics.