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Monday, May 16, 2022
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More and more firsts (all baseball cards this time)


The first Topps cards of the season are scheduled to hit the market next Wednesday.

I do not know what this means for me. I’d like to acquire a few packs off the retail shelf as has been my tradition for 45 years but we’ll see how many hobby hypsters are still out there. Before the month is out I’m guessing you’ll see some 2022 cards on this here site. And with that my posting of my very first card of the season.

It’s been pretty easy to catalog my first card of the season since I started this blog. I’ve posted it pretty much every year. But what about all those years before? That’s a lot tougher.

For some years, I know exactly what the first card I pulled was – it was an epic moment in my history. For other years, I can only guess. Some I have zero idea.

For example, the 1976 Topps Steve Carlton I know was one of the first in my collection. That beat-up creased thing was still in my collection decades later until I finally upgraded. But I do not know if it was THE first. I could not tell you which one that was (I have a much better idea of ​​which Dodger card was the first I pulled and I’ve posted about that).

So I figured I’d make this another one of my Firsts posts. I’ve done three previous ones here, here and here. All of those addressed other things besides baseball cards. I’ll keep this one to just my first pulls though, as I remember them.

1951 Topps

I’ve written about many of these card firsts before, including this one, the 1951 Red Back Duke Snider. It’s famous in my collecting life. I acquired it in a trade in high school, I showed it to the kid in the desk behind me, got it back from him and it was creased. I’ve since upgraded, but that kid is still a jerk.

1952 Topps

I’ve written about this one, too. The first 1952 Topps card I owned came from an interview with the subject of the card, Frank Smith. His friend gave me his collection of cards of Smith after Smith died more than 15 years ago, complete with signatures.

1954 Topps

I do not remember my first 1953 Topps card clearly. My first 1954 Topps card was this dude. It was the only ’54 card that I remember coming out of the grocery bag of cards we received from dad’s work friend when I was a youngster. The vast majority of the cards in that bag were from 1956-58. I do not have this card anymore.

1955 Topps

My first 1955 card is Frank Baumholtz here. I pulled it out of some sort of card vending machine at card show, one of my first shows. I do not know what it cost, insert a quarter maybe? I remember not being very impressed (the ’55 design still does not do much for me). I do not have this card anymore either.

1959 Topps

For 1956 through 1958 all of my “firsts” are related to the grocery bag haul. For 1956, I know the first cards I acquired that night were five Dodgers – Newcombe, Erskine, Zimmer, Randy Jackson and the team card. But I could not tell you which was first. The ’57 and ’58 first acquisitions were all a blur. Among the first handful were Bobby Avila, Willie Mays (’57) and Billy Hoeft and a very creased Willie Mays (’58).

The first ’59 Topps card I owned is Jim Gilliam, and it’s too bad that more Dodgers cards from this set are not this fantastic late-50’s-appropriate pink color instead of yellow. I have always loved this card.

1960 Topps

Written about this before, too. The first 1960 Topps card I owned was Roger Craig, my first vintage purchase at a hobby store in Cooperstown in the late 1980s. The card was in really good condition and still is (1960 Topps cards seem easy to find in great condition, not sure why).

1962 Topps

I do not know what my first ’61 Topps card was, although I have a feeling for a lot of these there is a past blog post in which I know exactly what it was. The joys of running a blog for so long at exactly the time in your life when memory is fading.

But for 1962 I know it’s Jim Gilliam again! Easy to see why he was an early favorite as I had very few vintage Dodgers yet two of them were Gilliam.

1963 Topps

For 1963 it’s Don Drysdale. Picked it up in a trade in high school. I’ve mentioned before that it was the best-conditioned vintage card in my collection (back then vintage was anything before 1970 – still is for me, but I know younger folks think differently). It’s not quite as spiffy but still nice.

1964 Topps

It’s Drysdale again. And essentially the same picture. Can’t tell you how I got this.

1965 Topps

It’s big Frank Howard. Back in my teens, trying to pick up vintage cards, it was all about the Dodgers. I simply could not afford to cast a wide net (what the heck were “lots”?). And I was not interested in any cap-less player from the Indians or White Sox.

1966 Topps

I really should remember how I obtained this Sandy Koufax card. Not only is it the first 1966 card I owned, it’s the first Koufax card I ever owned. But all I’ve got is a shoulder shrug.

1967 Topps

Yes! No Dodger here, it’s BOB BRUCE! (WHO?). I remember this card kicking around my collection as one of those massively ancient cards of some mysterious player with the weird haircut. How it arrived, not a clue.

1970 Topps

The “firsts” for the 1968 and 1969 sets are lost in a flurry of acquisitions during one summer as a 13-year-old on the porch and basement of my friends, one of which was gifted the “old cards” of his older brother . I had less’ 68s so I can pinpoint the few first of those cards more easily (Ed Brinkman! Sandy Alomar!)

For 1970, the first one was Fred Norman, who I knew as a kid as a pitcher for the Reds and Expos. When this card of him as a Dodger (although not really) arrived in my collection I was baffled. How did this get by me? I still have this card, all wrinkly and still sitting in my Dodgers binder with upgraded versions.

1971 Topps

Another story I’ve often told. The first ’71 Topps card in my collection was a mangled Manny Mota that I found on a roadside curb while walking home from my elementary school. Parts of the card were missing, but I brought it home and taped it together as best I could. Who knows where that Mota is now.

1974 Topps

The first ’72s I had were Bill Buckner and Bobby Valentine. I can not tell you what the first ’73 is although suspect it’s Pete Richert. And for 1974, I’ve told this story so often that I feel like the whole world knows it. First card I ever pulled. The rest is history.

1975 Topps

Another oft-told story on multiple blogs. Darold Knowles – this very card – is the first card I pulled out of a pack I purchased with my own allowance money. Still have it (in a display). It’s the most epic “first card” from the most epic set.

1977 Topps

Like I said, I can not come up with the very first ’76 Topps card I pulled. I just know some of those I had back then, including the Rennie Stennett Record Breaker, Dave LaRoche, Boog Powell, Dave Duncan, Darrell Evans, Duffy Dyer, Wilbur Howard, Charlie Moore, Jerry Grote, Gene Tenace … I could go on.

But for 1977, Ellie Rodriguez stands out because the first card I pulled that year was a Dodger card. It came out of the first rack pack I ever saw, which was discussed in a previous “Firsts” post.

For 1978 and 1979 Topps, I have no idea. I was starting to buy cards at a rapid pace (well, what was considered a rapid pace then) and it’s all a blur.

So I’m going to stop there.

I’d like to pick this up with what I can remember from 1980 until now, because like all of the other “Firsts” posts, this is part of my recorded history that I can look back on when I’m eating food from a straw in some home somewhere.

Can’t wait to add the first 2022 card to that list.



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