For weeks, I’d been itching to get back to one of my local card shops to dig through their vintage bargain bins. The Topps Million Giveaway promotion has rejuvenated my love for the old, smelly cards. So instead of paying inflated prices for a cardboard lottery ticket hoping to get something made before 1970, I decided to call the shots — I was going to chose what I wanted. And so I did. In the end I came away with five cards for $14.
The first is a 1954 Bowman rookie of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Memo Luna. Luna is a Mexican Baseball Hall of Famer. Born Guillermo Romero Luna, the lefty played in all of one game in his major league career. On April 20, 1954, Memo pitched just two-thirds of an inning, giving up six hits and two earned runs. And then poof, it was over; his Major League Dreams snuffed out. While his MLB numbers aren’t anything to gawk at, Luna actually played professional ball for 20 years What I have not figured out is how he got the nickname “Memo.”
I actually wish that I had gone to this card shop a week earlier. Nine days ago I paid $1 for a 1955 Topps Harvey Haddix card just to say I owned one of the guy who threw 12 perfect innings in a losing effort. And then lo and behold I found this 1961 Topps card yesterday commemorating that occasion. It still boggles my mind that Haddix tossed the equivalent of 1 1/4 of a perfect game and still came out on the losing end. This card is awesome, by the way. Very timely considering it is a “Baseball Thrills” subset, just like the ones that are in the 2010 Topps Heritage set.
I thought I bought a Milt Pappas rookie before, but a quick check of my blog via my cell phone was showing no signs of it. I would have posted it in my Rookie Card Showcase. Anyhow, for $2 I was not going to pass on this 1958 Topps card. Pappas tossed a no-hitter (almost a perfect game) with the Cubs late in his career. And although he was not a HOFer, he remains one of the best pitchers of his era, tallying more than 200 wins and 1,700-plus strikeouts. Solid career.
And from one Oriole to another who had a slightly more decorated career. OK, who am I kidding, this guy had a much more accomplished career. Brooks Robinson is one of the best third basemen to ever play the game and there was no way I was going to pass on a third-year card of a guy like that for $5. Yes, the card has some issues. There is a crease down the middle, but it’s really not as bad as it looks. And for the price, there was nothing to quibble about.
And lastly, the 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle card to which the headline alludes. Yes, this is a Yankee team checklist card, but it does feature some of legendary names: Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Whitey Ford, Sal Maglie, Tony Kubek, Elston Howard, Hank Bauer and more. Want to guess where Mantle is? He’s the shortest guy on the top row. Awesome, right? Oh, and don’t harass me about the card’s condition. If it looked any better than this, I wouldn’t own it because it would have cost me more than the $5 I paid.
Shameless Plug: Don’t miss your chance to win a 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle / Hank Aaron card.