Card of the Day: 1952 Topps Andy Pafko

Ever since I received my Lou Gehrig rookie card in the mail about two weeks ago, I’ve been in a different place as a collector. All of the shiny stuff I’ve pulled from packs in recent years really has become irrelevant to me since that 1933 Goudey Gehrig arrived. I’ve not bought a single card in more than two weeks, but in the meantime all I can think about is baseball, its greatest players historically and their old cardboard. Over the weekend I picked up “Cobb,” by Al Stump, and while I’m only 30-some-odd pages into it, it’s fueled my passion for the vintage cards again. And because I am not in a financial place to purchase anything new at this point — and probably for the rest of the year — I decided to dig an oldie but goodie out of my collection to share with the world: 1952 Topps Andy Pafko.

Mention the name at any cardshop across America and only one vision will come to mind, the card shown above. This is the very first card produced in its mainstream modern Topps baseball cards set. Sure tobacco cards have been produced since the late 1880s, Cracker Jack had shown players on cards for four decades before the Pafko was made, and Bowman, before being acquired by Topps, had been making cards since 1948. But this is Topps. This the brand you’re grandfathers owned; the ones your father’s bought; the ones you’ve been purchasing, and surely the ones your kids will be trading for, assuming they’re not too busy with their video games and other hobbies.

What I’ve been unable to determine is why Topps made Pafko it’s first card in this set. Typically the first card is reserved for the game’s best stars. Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays graced the spot in subsequent years. When Upper Deck broke into the business in 1989, they gambled — and it paid off — when they selected Ken Griffey Jr. as the first card.

What’s also interesting here is that Pafko is pictured as a Dodger. Ironic only because of Pafko’s 17 seasons in the Big Leagues, he only spent one and a half of them in Brooklyn. He spent eight and a half seasons with the Chicago Cubs and seven with the Milwaukee Brewers. Makes you wonder if the fact he played for the ever-popular Brooklyn Dodgers doesn’t help add to the value this card carries. And for the record, these Pafko’s run about $5,000, but can be had in poorer condition for less than $150. That’s a excellent collectible if you ask me.

Also of note is that there are two versions of the card. The first 80 cards in the 1952 Topps set had what is called black backs and red backs. The color refers to the color of the bar on the card’s reverse that contains the vital info for the pictured player. If you’re a person of technicalities, the red backs are considered to be the “first” cards. Although both colored backs were supposedly produced in equal quantities, there was a time where then red back — which is what is pictured here — carried a higher price tag.

4 Responses to “Card of the Day: 1952 Topps Andy Pafko”

  1. […] 1952 Topps cards to sooth that itch for cards from the vintage set. I noted earlier this summer my Andy Pafko card, which in a sense is even more iconic than this Mays, and I’ve got an awesome condition […]

  2. […] Comments: How in the hell did I score this card for less than a dollar? This is the first card of the 1955 Topps set, a card that carries a book value of $125. Yes, that’s One-Hundred Twenty-Five Dollars. The only issues with this card are the worn corners. Nonetheless, this is a fantastic pickup, one that has inspired me to start a new Project: The Numbers Ones. The premise of the project will be to acquired the first card from each base Topps set produced. I’m already got the most important one. Andy Pafko. […]

  3. James hyman Says:

    Just a few days ago I got my Pafko Black Back BVG 3.5. I read an passage that said that the two error cards had black backs then were fixed and had red backs. That would make the Black Backs the first print run, wouldn’t it ? Any way I was really amped when I received my card ( even though it was sent to the wrong house, lost for a day. That goodness there are still nice people out there. They droped it off at my doorstep !! But I have topps first card first print run. It took 35 years to get it and an angry wife too.

  4. i would like to buy pafko for less then 50.00

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