For the previous entries in this series, see Part 1 here and Part 2 here
It's been awhile since I've remembered to continue this series. It's still an interesting exercise because the top cards of this year have almost no relation to top cards of the year past. Today, autos, refractors, colored foil changes, and patch pieces make a card a desirable from the moment it leaves the pack. What would allow a card from 2011 to maintain its significance over the next generation of card production. Just as from 1993 to now, conceptions will change over what makes a memorable, value-sustaining, eminently collectible feature card. But there's one idea that has not changed over the last 18+ years, rookie cards rule. Rookies of up and comers, rookies of hall of famers, rookies of established stars, rookies of flashes through the baseball stratosphere. There's something special about the first card, and for a long time, it was easy to define. This is evident from the next portion of this list.
There's also a couple quirky choices among the denizens of the list; the cult of the error card continued apace during this era, as did the genesis of the insert revolution, expanding beyond the basic parameters of the base set, something we almost take for granted now and expect as the natural adaptation of the collector moves beyond any boundaries.....on the list....
60. 1985 Donruss Corrected Tom Seaver: The regular issue Tom Seaver was pictured as a left-hander named Floyd Bannister. This version was only available in factory sets. Now, it's common to find cards you can only get in factory sets like red parallels of 2010 Topps, special team issued factory sets (2008-2010 Topps), draft pick cards (2005 Topps), and rookies (2001 Fleer Tradition). Great unintentional innovation.
59. 1962 Topps Managers' Dream: Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays on the same card. These guys led the vintage card value increase in the '80s. It's also a rare photo of players from the opposite league in the '60s. More also, it's a much better concept than Diamond Duos.
58. 1972 Topps Carlton Fisk/Cecil Cooper/Mike Garman: He was still playing when this issue came out, having joined the 4 decade players club. Invest in the card now before he makes the Hall of Fame! He already has? Great, it won't rise in value anymore.
57. 1985 Topps Mark McGwire: This card was a heavy player for many years, selling at a peak of around $200 in the late '90s. Little did the writers of this issue know that this card and its inhabitant would spur a realization and backlash against steroid use in baseball. And with that, the card would fall off the list.
56. 1984 Fleer Update Dwight Gooden: A great card in the '80s, but it soon became surpassed in popularity for awhile by two other cards in the set, the Puckett and Clemens.
55. 1957 Topps Brooks Robinson
54. 1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski: I have to put these together because the view on these players is very similar. Two franchise icons, two hall of famers, each had a defining MVP season (Yaz: 1967, Robinson: 1964), each sometimes overshadowed by other franchise icons (Williams for Yaz and Ripken for Robinson), yet still two amazin card to own.
53. 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle: A card from the set with arguably the best design of all in his return to Topps after a two year Bowman hiatus. Plus, there's a smile.
52. 1957 Frank Robinson: It's not everyday that a 586 HR hitting, Triple Crown winning, two-time MVP winning, groundbreaking Hall of Famer has an undervalued card. I would argue that his greatness has been consistently underrated. He is one of the top 20 players ever.
51. 1983 Topps Traded Daryl Strawberry: They sure did love the Mets in '93. Strawberry flashed across the hobby scene before his career dropped off quickly at the age of 29.
50. 1962 Topps Roger Maris: The card with the first 60+ HR season line on it that led off the set. Picturesque and perfect.
49. 1974 Topps Dave Winfield: The only notable rookie in this set. This ranking was before his 3000th hit.
48. 1955 Topps Harmon Killebrew: Kind of the cult hero of the 500 HR club. Everyone was a fan of the Killer, even if you weren;t a Senators/Twins fan. Unscrupulously powerful, and the card shows a great depiction of the original Washington Senators logo.
47. 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith: The first card of the Wizard showing him pensive as a Padre. Did you know he was at my graduation in St Louis? He earned an honorary degree the same day I received my degree.
46. 1965 Topps Steve Carlton: This card is #1a on my personal wantlist. His quantity of strikeouts, Cy Young awards, and terse press statements defined his career.
45. 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken: Still the most celebrated (or entertaining) error card. There are at least 10 documented variations of the obscene and obscured bat knob.
44. 1954 Topps Ted Williams: The year of the Williams bookends for the Topps set. Do you prefer the first or last card in the set?
43. 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations Frank Thomas: Insertmania! $4 jumbo packs of 1992 Fleer!? The Big Hurt in blue foil! This card booked for $45 in July 1993. Any other normal, non-numbered, non-rookie inserts out there now that have inspired such craziness?
42. 1948-49 Leaf Satchel Paige: It actually says Leroy Paige on the front of the card. It's also a shortprint of one of the top 5 pitchers to play this game. A true collection cornerstone.
41. 1959 Topps Bob Gibson: A rookie card of the pitcher with maybe the greatest modern post-deadball era season (1.12 ERA in 1968). This card is also from the artistic 1959 Topps set and comes from the high series.
Some stats for this list
# of cards in my collection: 0
# of rookies: 14
# of errors: 2
# of Mantles: 2
# of pitchers: 5
# of cards that I can afford to get this week: 8
# of cards that I will buy this week: 0, unless I find a 1992 Fleer jumbo box for cheap/