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.
Cal Ripken Jr., 1982 Topps
Rookie cards are special. Rookie cards of Hall of Famers are even more special. But when you own a rookie card of someone who owns a record that is unlikely to be broken, that’s on another level. That’s the case for Mike C. of Auburn, New York, who submitted this Ripken rookie card in our survey.
The 1982 Topps set is attractive for its symmetry, with the player’s name and team at the bottom beneath the Topps logo, and his position listed on a colored border coming down from the left side of the card. With Ripken’s card, there’s even more symmetry, in the look on the Iron Man’s face as he begins his MLB career.
The look conveys determination, and it’s determination that resulted in Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak of 2,131. Ripken’s streak went on to reach 2,632 games before he finally took a day off on Sept. 20, 1998. -- Manny Randhawa
Brooks Robinson, 1957 Topps
The brightness of this classic card, Robinson's rookie card, is what catches you first. And look at the joy on Robinson's face -- and how young he looks! (He was just 19 years old entering the 1957 season.) The future Hall of Famer and franchise legend had a long career ahead of him.
Then look at the orange-on-orange tones, the pastel blue and orange lettering spelling out "Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 3rd B." at the bottom of the card … it all looks so crisp and clean.
Jeffrey Brooks Price, the Baltimore native who submitted this card, also has a great story behind it -- and yes, his middle name has something to do with it.
"My middle name is Brooks, and I was born the year he retired from baseball," Jeffrey explains. "I bought it at a baseball card show when I was 11 years old after meeting him and getting my picture with him and his autograph. My son now has the same middle name, and the card will be also be his some day."
Iconic Orioles card: Eddie Murray, 1978 Topps
Murray hit the ground running when he debuted in the Majors in 1977, winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award after hitting .283 with 27 homers and 88 RBIs in 160 games for an Orioles club that won 97 games but missed the postseason.
The future Hall of Famer was first included in baseball card sets the next year. Murray’s 1978 Topps rookie card is a favorite of Joe DiGregorio of Rochester, N.Y., who wrote:
“The Orioles were my favorite team growing up and Eddie was my favorite player. I started collecting cards in 1986 when I was 13 years old, buying wax packs and putting together my set. Then I learned there were shops where you could buy individual cards! I knew I had to have Eddie Murray's rookie card, so I saved up the $20 and bought it. Still my favorite card in my collection.”
By 1986, “Steady Eddie” was an established star, having produced 275 homers and 1,015 RBIs in his first 10 seasons. He made seven All-Star teams and finished among the top five in the AL MVP voting five times in that span.
The switch-hitting Murray is one of only six players ever to reach both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in his career. -- Thomas Harrigan