We’ll continue our tour of Cardboard Cooperstown alphabetically with this installment taking us from Christy Mathewson to Hal Newhouser. (Click here for the start of the series.)
Christy Mathewson – T206 “Dark Cap”
Here is a player with no ugly cards. In fact, several collectors I know harbor huge “man crushes” on their Mathewson cards, if not old “Big Six” himself. I’d make fun of them, but I suspect I’d be in the same boat if only I had a Mathewson card in my collection.
Willie Mays – 1953 Topps
I’ve seen several collectors express their distaste for this Mays card, but I’ve never really understood why. I’m a sucker for pretty much any 1953 Topps card, but I particularly like the non-portrait poses, and this one scores bonus points for the dreamy sky background and the character of the Mays image itself.
Bill Mazeroski – 1960 Topps World Series subset
Fielding prowess aside, Mazeroski will always be remembered most for his dramatic World Series homer to beat the Yankees. This card perfectly captures one of baseball’s most iconic moments and reminds us that back in the day it was normal for a guy in a suit to be chasing a ballplayer down the baseline.
Joe McCarthy – 1936 Goudey Wide Pen Premiums
So you’re probably thinking I couldn’t resist the (rookie) Joe DiMaggio cameo, and that’s at least part of the story here. I also wanted to keep McCarthy a Yankee, which limited my choices quite a bit.
Tom McCarthy – 1895 Mayo Cut Plug
Here’s another McCarthy with little to choose from, so I’ll take this opportunity to call out the simple and clean design of this particular card set. The image is also clear and sharp, certainly more so than other 19th century tobacco cards.
Willie McCovey – 1972 Pro Star postcards
The 1972 Pro Star set, from which I also chose the Marichal, has two big knocks against it. One, as the name implies, it’s postcard sized. Two, lacking an MLB license, the cards omit team logos from the player uniforms. Other than that, it’s a GREAT set in just about every way. When I first revealed my adoration for shots like this, my SABR Baseball Cards Research Committee co-chair, Nick, decided I was a junkie for catadioptric bokeh, which I of course had to look up.
Joe McGinnity – T206
McGinnity’s main playing career issues all put him with the Newark Indians of the Class-A Eastern League. As such, McGinnity’s T206 does not show him as a Major Leaguer, but it does have the distinction of showing him as the club’s player-manager-owner!
Bill McGowan – 1994 Conlon Collection TSN Burgundy
I just can’t lose sleep over Harold Baines when I take note of how many umpires are in the Hall of Fame. I am not afraid to admit that I’d never even heard of this guy until ten minutes ago. Then again, I just saw that the great Theodore Samuel Williams said called McGowan “one of the sharpest guys with balls and strikes I’ve ever seen” and added, “I’d say he was probably 99.99 percent right.”
John McGraw – T205 Gold Border
T205 Gold Border. ‘Nuff said.
Bill McKechnie – 1940 Play Ball
The folks at Gum, Inc. didn’t bother giving Reds and Yankees managers the catchy pennant flags their players received, but the Cincinnati skipper still managed a great looking card featuring one of a handful of classic manager poses. I don’t even work in baseball (or any sport!), but I try to adopt this pose whenever I run a team meeting.
Bid McPhee – 1888 Old Judge
And you thought “Bid McPhee” was just a funny way to refer to the 10% eBay docks you when someone wins your item. Nope! Believe it or not, John Alexander “Bid” McPhee was a real live baseball player who patrolled second base for the Reds during the 1880s and 90s. Check the man’s stats, and you will not be impressed. However, this little tidbit might impress you. “[McPhee] regularly led the league in many defensive categories despite playing without a glove for the first 14 years of his career.” (And sure enough, check the card. No glove!)
Joe Medwick – 1934-36 Diamond Stars
I like quite a few of Medwick’s cards and came close to springing for his 1938 Goudey “Heads Up” cartoon variation, but I ultimately went with this one, both for my collection and this page. In addition to the great colors, backgrounds are part of what makes this set great. Any idea what’s happening behind Ducky? (Keith Olbermann likely has the answer!)
Jose Mendez – 1923-24 Nacionales Cigarros
Recent tribute sets have provided this Negro Leagues player a bit more cardboard, but this Cuban cigar issue is the only one I know from his playing days.
Johnny Mize – 1952 Berk Ross
Though colors often appear washed out with some of the Berk Ross cards, this Mize image is a gem. Note that a cropped version of it also supports the previous year’s Berk Ross card of the Big Cat.
Paul Molitor – 1979 Topps
It’s hard not to be tempted by the great piece at the SABR Baseball Cards blog to choose the Molly card that shows the most different positions. Still, I’m going to go with a card that’s always grabbed me, Molitor’s first Topps solo card, which I pulled no shortage of as a nine-year-old card fiend. I think this was the very card one of my friends at school used to show me the secrets of the Brewers logo.
Joe Morgan – 1966 Topps
Show me a Topps All-Star Rookie card that isn’t awesome! You can’t. Honorable mention goes to any card with this uniform.
Jack Morris – 1987 Donruss
Eddie Murray – 1988 Topps Record Breaker
The man’s 1978 Topps All-Star Rookie card is a classic and one of the best of the decade. Still, I gotta admire the creativity of this record breaker card from 1988, honoring the switch-hitters pair of homers from both sides of the plate in back-to-back games.
Stan Musial – 1953 Bowman
Not to get too weird but the photo is so vivid it’s almost like you’re right there in the dugout chatting with Stan the Man!
Mike Mussina – 1993 Pinnacle
I gotta admit after scrolling through more than a thousand cards of this guy, they all start to look the same other than maybe the uniform. That’s not a knock on Mussina himself, just a statement about when he played. And in what’s probably a statement about when I started collecting, I was just happy to find a card of him that just had a border, a single photo, and nothing so shiny it hurt my eyes.
Hal Newhouser – 1973 Topps “1953 Reprint”
The 1953 Topps card is already a winner, but the 1973 reprint version is even nicer, particularly with the outfield ads that were missing on the original. (A nice write-up of the card can be found at Matthew Glidden’s site.) I am hoping someday to get the full story on this oddball set that among other things trades the original 1953 Topps design for the front and back design of 1934-36 Diamond Stars.
NON-HOF BONUS: Thurman Munson – 1971 Topps
Do I really need to explain this one?
Check back soon for the next installment of this series, which will look at the best cards of Hall of Famers from Kid Nichols to Frank Robinson.