Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March is Mostly Mets Reading Month and 'Topps Baseball Cards, the Complete Picture Collection' -- bigger than a coffee table

Today we're spending March is Mets Reading Month by saluting what might be the coolest reference book ever.

Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection
Published in 1985

Some books are intended to sit on coffee tables, conveniently placed for leisurely flipping through big, beautiful photos.

And some books, such as today’s entry, are big enough to serve as coffee tables.
“Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection” is exactly that. The book has a photo of every Topps card from the company’s first set in 1951 until the beautiful 1985 issue.

There are not a lot of words to get in the way of all the photos. Each year is introduced with a short write-up about that baseball season and some notes about the set. No matter, because the images of all the cards in proper number order is a sight to be treasured.

I’ve collected Topps cards since 1972 – still my favorite set –and continued searching high and low to find missing cards for the next 41 years, an odyssey finally coming to a close with much fanfarein 2013 when the most ever-elusive Vic Davalillo was slipped lovingly into the vacant sleeve in the plastic page.

The book served as a checklist of sorts, showing me exactly which cards I was missing and even what they looked like, making them easier to spot as I searched through bargain bins at mall shows and national conventions.

The book is a treat because it allows me to study beautiful sets from the 1950s and 1960s that I can never dream of completing. The 1956 set with horizontal, painted cards showing a head shot and action pose of each player is stunning. Even most of the Yankees look good.

Topps celebrated the 60th anniversary of its set in 2011, which sparked a blog series counting down the company’s top 60 cards, with occasional peeks at cards from other companies or looks at manager cards or wonderfully awful airbrushing jobs from when players switched teams.

Here’s our story about which Topps card came out on top – which will surprise exactly no one: It's true, 'Tom Terrific' atop the Topps top 60

March 5: "Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century" by Marc Okkenon
March 4: "Clemente! The Enduring Legacy" by Kal Wagenheim 
March 3: "Mets by the Numbers" by Jon Springer and Matthew Silverman
March 2: "Faith and Fear in Flushing" by Greg W. Prince

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