The Most Memorable Baseball Cards in History
The best cards aren’t always the most valuable, but sometimes they are
From collectibles, to investments, to accessories to make your bicycle sound like a motorcycle, baseball cards have remained an intrinsic part of society for decades. Enjoyed by children and adults alike, the cardboard curios have delighted many. Ranging in value from personal to monetary, the hobby has seen a number of iconic cards over the years. Here are some of the most memorable.
1989 Fleer Billy Ripken:
Although Billy never lived up to the exploits of his brother Cal on the field, he established his own legend in the card world with his entry in the 1989 set. Several versions of the card exist, with the most famous being the “Error” version that has an un-airbrushed expletive (“F*ck Face) written in black marker on the knob of the bat he is holding.
He later explained how the famous inscription came to be written. “Now I had to write something on the bat. At Memorial Stadium, the bat room was not too close to the clubhouse, so I wanted to write something that I could find immediately if I looked up and it was 4:44 and I had to get out there on the field a minute later and not be late. There were five big grocery carts full of bats in there and if I wrote my number 3, it could be too confusing. So, I wrote ‘F — k’ Face on it.”
1909–10 T-206 (American Tobacco Company) Honus Wagner:
After Wagner, one of the biggest stars in baseball, blocked the production of this card, only about 50–200 of them ever reached the public. As a result, this has become the most coveted and famous of all baseball cards. When it was first listed in a card catalog in 1933, it was for the price of $50, which was considered an absurd amount, especially given that it was in the heart of the Great Depression. Since then, the value of the card has only continued to sky rocket, as rare examples have been found and sold for as much as $3.1 million.
Every now and then, it’s reported that another of these rare cards have been found in unusual places. One of the most recent being located wrapped in twine in an Ohio attic in 2012.
1989 Pro Cards Keith Comstock:
If you’re looking for a valuable card, this isn’t it. However, if you want a card that will make you laugh, this may well be for you. Comstock was a journeyman reliever, who decided to have some fun when posing for his card with a minor league set. Instead of the usual poses that players assumed when having their photo taken, he decided to stage being struck in the crotch with a baseball. Needless to say, baseball card gold was created and is remembered to this day, even if his career as a player largely is not.
Comstock later detailed how his famous card came to be. He has no regrets about what it took to be remembered, explaining, “I’ve got three kids and six grand kids. They’ve all seen that baseball card. Two of my grandsons are 10 and 12. Their mom showed them the card awhile back, and they loved it. Thirty years later and there’s Grandpa, getting hit in the nuts.”
1976 Topps Traded Oscar Gamble:
Another card with minimal financial value at a couple of bucks at best, it’s another example of the picture being worth a thousand words. Gamble was an excellent outfielder who also sported an incredibly impressive Afro at times during the 1970s. In particular, his hair was on point on this card, while he was wearing the uniform of the New York Yankees. Rarely has the intersection of so many social issues and dichotomies come together in one image.
The Yankees made Gamble cut his hair, but not before the iconic photo was taken. He later recalled how losing his locks cost him endorsement deals he was later able to recoup from team owner George Steinbrenner.