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 Yankees card: Aaron Judge, 2018 Topps Series 1
All Rise for this card. Judge became the face of Topps' 2018 Series 1 baseball card set, and everything about Card #1 looks fantastic.
Start with the photo. It's striking. Judge stands in the batter's box, holding his pose after a swing. He's gazing off into the distance, doubtless admiring a monster home run he just crushed.
Then there's the design of the card, from the glinting, classic Yankees logo in the bottom left to the way Judge's nameplate trails off on the right edge of the card in a swirl of computerized pixels.
And, of course, because this card was made following Judge's monster 52-home run rookie season in 2017, there's the signature Topps All-Star Rookie trophy in the bottom right, and the gold Future Stars lettering at the top, with the same pixel trails as Judge's name.
Iconic Yankees card: Don Mattingly, 1984 Topps
The 1980s were a golden era for baseball card collecting, and Mattingly was one of the best and most popular players of the decade, so it’s not surprising that the first baseman’s rookie cards were among the most coveted in the industry during that time.
Mike from St. Louis has an affinity for Mattingly’s 1984 Topps card.
“Like many Yankees fans my age, Mattingly was my childhood hero,” he wrote. “In Little League, I wore sweatbands just like he did in the picture on this card.”
The 1984 Topps design is easily distinguishable, featuring team nicknames rendered in vertical block lettering and two images -- an action shot and a smaller headshot in front of a brightly colored background.
Mattingly’s 1984 Topps card shows the first baseman on defense, clad in Yankee pinstripes and preparing to field his position. Interestingly, Mattingly is clean shaven in his action shot, but he has a mustache in his inset headshot.
A 4 is visible on Mattingly’s back. While he wore No. 23 for much of his career, Mattingly sported No. 46 his first three seasons. Mattingly is also listed as an outfielder and a first baseman on the card.
Mattingly actually debuted in 1982 and lost his rookie eligibility in ’83, but he wasn't included in baseball card sets until '84. That season proved to be the first baseman's big breakout, as he won the American League batting title with a .343 average and had 23 homers, 44 doubles and 110 RBIs in 153 games. The next year, Mattingly was named AL MVP.
From 1984-89, Mattingly hit .327 with 160 homers, 257 doubles, 684 RBIs and a .902 OPS and won five Gold Glove Awards. Mattingly was hampered by injuries thereafter, but in his prime, few players were better. -- Thomas Harrigan