Topps 1956 Gives Look at Extra Stars
April 3, 2012
by William Szczepanek
The 1956 Topps set is one of my favorites, but at times it is one of the most confusing sets of all time. Players are often shown in action sequences, many of which came from actual game photos. But, sometimes players are superimposed on backgrounds and you can never be sure if the card is a mocked up picture or a real one.
We've spent some time and tried to determine which cards are created from real game photos and when so, who are the other players in the photos. Often some real stars have made appearances on common player cards, but who knows for sure? Most we think are pretty accurate and some are our best guesses. It makes for some interesting analysis... if you're a little nerdy. Okay... a lot nerdy.
#15 Ernie Banks --- In the picture are #37 Gene Baker and #4 Ted Tappe. The only two home runs that Banks hit where Gene Baker and Ted Tappe scored were grand slams. The first was 5/11/1955 off of Russ Meyer of the Dodgers where Randy Jackson also scored. The second was 5/29/55 off of Lew Burdette where Bob Speake was the other player to score in addition to Baker and Tappe. I haven't been able to figure out which this is, but they were close in time and occurred in 1955 when Banks hit a then record 5 grand slams in the season. Both were in Wrigley Field so the home uniforms fit the situation.
#25 Ted Kluszewski --- On this card Ted Kluszewski is greeted by teammate Jim Greengrass, number 23, after a home run. The card is special for me since my first baseball glove was a Jim Greengrass autograph model. Most people, including the kids at the time asked, "Who is Jim Greengrass?" Now that's a really good baseball player name.
#38 Bob Kennedy --- Bob Kennedy of the White Sox slides home with number 8, Yogi Berra, of the Yankees making the play. Kennedy was on Baltimore when the photo was taken and the White Sox hat is superimposed.
#101 Roy Campanella --- The photo shows Campanella sliding into home plate with a catcher in a Giants uniform taking the throw. Is the catcher #8 Ray Katt of Giants who played in 124 games in 1955 or #9 Wes Westrum who played in only 69 games in 1955 because of injuries, but did play more game in previous years. We will go with Wes Westrum because he was noted for his bald pate and at 32 was much older than Katt.
#105 Al Smith --- Smith slide into second with the throw being taken by someone who looks like Phil Rizzuto of the Yankees.
#212 Johnny Temple --- Temple is #16 and Roy McMillan is #11 in the keystone corner.
#257 Bobby Thomson --- Thompson hits while catcher is number 9, Wes Westrum, of Giants.
There are so many cards in this set that can be commented on for good, bad or ridiculous reasons. In some ways it is one of the worst sets that Topps produced and in many ways it is one of the best sets ever produced. One thing for sure it is one of the most interesting and puzzling sets ever.
Hope I didn't bore you too much and if anyone has any other educated guesses about the action shots on these cards, let me know.