NEED # 295 -- just one left!
1957 marked several formative steps for Topps, who continued to set standards for what "baseball card" means today.
1. The modern card size
Prior to 1957, Topps printed baseball sets on 2-5/8" x 3-3/4" cardboard, visibly larger than today's 2-1/2" x 3-1/2". Once top competitor Bowman went out of business in 1956, Topps lowered production costs by trimming a bit off both dimensions. This smaller size debuted in late 1956 for their 66-card Elvis Presley set.
Topps set 2-1/2" x 3-1/2" as their baseball standard for 1957 and it remains so to the present day.
2. Color photos here to stay
The full-color seen on 1956 Elvis cards also made their way to baseball in 1957.
|Full-color and full-strength, Topps #165 Ted Kluszewski|
Bowman attempted a full set of photo-color cards in 1953, but reverted to hand-tinted sets for 1954 due to high printing costs. Topps stuck with hand-tinted player images through 1956, then switched to color photos from 1957 on.
3. Scarce middle series
Many Topps issues from the 1950s and 60s have a run of lesser-printed cards, typically the "high numbers" released near the end of each season. They expected lower sales during this period, as many fans would switch to non-baseball interests, or at least buy different trading cards with their gum money.
|1957 scarce series uncut sheet|
1957, on the other hand, is sparse in its next-to-last series (#265-352). I assume that either A) earlier series undersold Topps' expectations, leaving less money to print this run, or B) mid-series printing problems required removal of a bunch of sheets prior to packaging. Either way, you'll spend more tracking down those 88 cards than any others in the set.
4. Last look at Dem Bums
|1957 Topps #400, Dodgers Sluggers|
Brooklyn said goodbye to its Dodgers after 1957. My favorite parting shot is this multi-player card starring four of their biggest names.
5. Dated contest cards & the "lucky penny"
Topps took the novel step of adding a date-specific contest to packs shipped from May to July, offering prizes in exchange for correct game score predictions.
|1957 Topps contest card for May 25|
The dated contest cards (May 4, May 25, June 22, July 19) aren't well-known to the average collector, but hint at how often Topps shipped new products to their distributors and retailers. Many kids must've mailed in these promos, because few remain in the hobby today.
Most collectors don't pursue a lucky penny keychain card when building 1957 baseball, but it did come in that year's packs. Topps added this scarce oddity to several sets from that year, including football and non-sports issues. (Based on eBay searches, it sells for several thousand pennies these days!)
The Hall of Thanks
OldBaseball.com friends TJ Valacak, Wes Shepard, and Lynn Miller have all helped with upgrades. Thanks, guys!
Feb 2: Here are a half-dozen recent pickups from eBay. Kaline's off the upgrade list!
Sept 6: Made some upgrade hits at the 2014 National in Cleveland and grabbed this sharp-cornered Art Ditmar off eBay for $1.75.
Ditmar's wearing a KC Athletics cap, reflecting one of the many players shipped between KC and NYY in 1957. The kickoff came on Feb 19 and the teams took until June to tie up its loose ends, quoted from Art's transactions page:
"Traded by Kansas City Athletics with Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, Wayne Belardi and 2 players to be named later to New York Yankees in exchange for Irv Noren, Milt Graff, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, Billy Hunter and a player to be named later (February 19, 1957); New York Yankees received Curt Roberts (April 4, 1957) and Kansas City Athletics received Jack Urban (April 5, 1957) and New York Yankees received Clete Boyer (June 4, 1957)."
Oct 12: #102 Ray Boone arrives from eBay!
TRIVIA BONUS: Ray's son Bob and grandsons Bret (and later Aaron) became the first 3-generational baseball family when Bret debuted on August 19, 1992.
Oct 16: Two more eBay hits, Frank Sullivan and the Cubs team!
1957's Cubs finished two games better than 1956's Cubs under the first-year tutelage of Bob Scheffing. Despite a gradually improving W/L record, he never broke .500 and Chicago lost patience, parting ways with Bob after 1959. Detroit picked up the still-young skipper for 1961, where Scheffing won 101 (!) games in his AL debut, missing the pennant only because New York won 109.