Sunday, December 6, 2009

CotD-1956 Topps Larry Doby

After 2 World Series, 7 straight All Star appearances and 2 homerun titles the Cleveland Indians traded 32-year-old outfielder Larry Doby to the Chicago White Sox for Jim Busby and Chico Carrasquel following the 1955 baseball season. Apparently the late-October timing was way too late for Topps to adapt. Also, apparently in 1956 they weren’t concerned with airbrushing or blacking out logos either. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that Larry Doby is one of my favorite players of All-Time. Well, I have been a fan of his for a very long time. This is probably the 7th or 8th copy of his 1956 Topps, card #250, that I have owned in my collecting lifetime. I was a fairly young tike (8 years old) when I found my first copy, it was my very first vintage card, the first card printed before ’76 that I ever owned. I stared and stared at this card for many hours; I got a giant oversized lucite case for it and kept it on a shelf in my room. I trusted Topps baseball implicitly in those days-the card said Chicago White Sox and shows a portrait of Doby in what I now know is a Cleveland Indians hat, but for years during my childhood I was certain that the red C on his blue hat was for Chicago. I think I was in high school before it finally struck me that it was in fact a Cleveland hat. Anyway, like I said in the opening this marked the end of an era for Doby in Cleveland. He had joined the team for a little while in ’47 and was their full-time centerfielder during their World Championship season in 1948. During their amazing 1954 season, where the Indians won 111 games, Doby paced the team in homers (32) and runs batted in (126) and he finished 2nd in the MVP voting that year behind Yogi Berra. The following season (1955) would be his last year in Cleveland-he went to his 7th consecutive All Star game and batted .291 with 26 homers and 75 RBI. In his first season in Chicago with the White Sox Doby would top 100 RBIs for the 5th and final time in his career-he batted .268 with 24 homers in his freshman year with the Sox. He would only spend 2 seasons with Chicago before being traded to Baltimore. He never played an inning with the Orioles and was traded back to Cleveland before the 1958 season. He would be traded to the Tigers prior to the ’59 season and then sold back to the White Sox for his final big league season in 1959. He only played in 21 games for the Sox and didn’t factor in the playoffs for them. He would retire from Major League baseball after that season after 13 seasons in the big leagues. Over his career he had 1515 hits, 253 homers, drove in 970 runs and scored 960 times. He was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998, five years before his death.
This stands as one of my favorite cards of all time and for years I thought it was the perfect card. A great design, a great player, an awesome moment in time. Even knowing he is wearing the wrong hat for the wrong team, it is still an amazing card and it is today’s Collective Troll card of the day. I love the story-telling cartoons on the back-the 3 color printing and the overall design. The back of the card mentions that Doby was twice the AL homer champ-in ’52 and ’54. It also mentions that on June 4, 1952 he hit a single, double, triple and homer in the same game. Commonly known (now at least) as hitting for the cycle. Regardless of which hat Doby is wearing, this is the still one of the most treasured cards in my collection. I love this hobby! Troll out.

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