1954 Topps

The 1954 Topps Baseball set consists of 250 cards, each measuring 2-5/8" by 3-3/4”, and is often credited for setting the market's design standard. Topps redesigned this issue to feature bright colors with a centralized image with a smaller likeness of the player in action. A larger team logo and facsimile autograph, along with standard player factoids, rounded out the design. Big stars included big stars, including Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Gil Hodges, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn and Ted Williams. (Williams returned to the Big Leagues after fulfilling his military obligation and held the distinction of not only being card #1 in this series, but also card #250, one of the most popular cards in the modern hobby). Rookie entries include Hank Aaron, along with Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, and Tom Lasorda. Even though card #s 51-75 are somewhat difficult to secure, collectors agree that the release lacks any truly elusive numbers. Perhaps the only disappointment to fans is the absence of some stars of previous Topps issuances, most notably Mickey Mantle, a victim of familiar contractual licensing rights.

A developing phenomenon, that would come to be seen as the Topps juggernaut, gathered momentum in 1954. That company, not Bowman, was now in a position to dictate baseball cards' preferred dimensions, and its 2 5/8" by 3 ¾" size had effectively become the market's undisputed standard. Still, there was plenty of opportunity for innovation in design with respect to the features that would adorn the cards' big surfaces in a new year, and Topps took full advantage with the creation of its 1954s.

The 1952 issue had been a trendsetter, and 1953 demonstrated a solid theme, executed with restraint and dignity. But all the stops were pulled in 1954, as the new models were characterized by (for lack of a better word) "activity."

All kinds of visual elements vied for the customer's attention on the front of a 1954 Topps baseball card. A central, color image shared space with a smaller one that showed the same player in a game-action posture. A huge team logo proclaimed the subject's franchise affiliation in no uncertain terms, and each player's facsimile autograph, along with a standard caption showing name, position and (again) team, showcased his identity. A brightly-hued background color, which, unusually extended all the way to the card's top edge, set off the entire arrangement, making each 1954 Topps cardfront look like a collage-piece tribute to the featured athlete.

The horizontally-oriented backs were just as busy, with personal information, descriptive text, statistics and cartoon sequences all filling their respective allowed spaces. The aesthetically appealing cardbacks also revealed full-bleed color, with the deep-green accenting of the design's bottom-half left attractively uncontained.

In short, there was nothing tentative about 1954 Topps' manner of presentation. The cards were easily the most eye-catching collectibles of their kind produced to date, and the fervency with which the market responded to their design left little doubt about the success of the concept.

Composition - Numbering just 250 cards, the 1954 Topps release offered a technically limited but still very potent range of subjects. A satisfying array of big stars, including Berra, Ford, Hodges, Mays, Robinson, Snider, Spahn and Williams, populated its ranks, as well as a small but truly amazing group of rookie players: Ernie Banks, Al Kaline and, most significantly, Hank Aaron.

Although clearly still grappling with contractual licensing rights issues that precluded the appearance of some key players (most notably, Mickey Mantle), Topps wasn't fretting about their absence. Instead, the company capitalized on the grandest marquee name that was featured. Ted Williams - just back from military service and once again settling into his starring Major League role - was granted the illustrious position as the issue's #1 depiction. His card, blessed with all of the series' typical style attributes and set apart by a vibrant orange-colored background, assumed its position as the production's flagship entry. But that wasn't enough - Williams also appeared on the final card in the set. There, his yellow-themed, second portrayal displayed different pictures of Ted, and the back of his card #250, which is one of the most popular cards in the modern hobby, carried a full narrative in cartoon form.

In the realm of design, the 1954 Topps cards demonstrate a quirk only a true enthusiast would notice. If one sorts a stack of the 1954 cards with all of the players facing up, the backs are jumbled if the group is examined from the back. Conversely, if the cards are put in order by number (resulting in a neatly ordered, consecutive group when viewed from the reverse), half of the obverse fronts will be upside-down when the sorted pile is looked at from that perspective. This odd circumstance is a result of the factory press-sheet layout, on which cards were placed top-to-top before cutting (those contiguous tops yielding the aforementioned color border at the northward edges) and the backs were similarly aligned to accommodate the borderless green effect on those sides. This pattern wouldn't be employed again for many years, and in any event brought about little or no consternation among hobbyists.

Key Features and Rarities - The awesome 1954 Topps rookie crop, highlighted by Aaron, Kaline, Banks and Tom Lasorda, stands as a focusof interest among present-day Hall of Fame collectors and speculative card-buyers. One segment of the issue (#s 51-75) is seen as mildly difficult, but there are no profoundly elusive numbers in the release. As is the case when attempting to construct many of the vintage card sets, attaining satisfactory condition poses more of a challenge than the simple location of all of its numbers.

Bottom Line - As if any doubt remained at this point, in just the third year of its baseball card activity, Topps was making its intentions clear as the undisputed superior card company of the hobby during that period. The 1954 Topps productions' dual images, and player autographs, and the association of color and graphics featured on single cards were, nothing less than spectacular for their time. In another campaign that witnessed Topps and Bowman going head to head, Topps emerged as the maker of the year's "all-time" classic effort.

SET LIST

# CARD NAME
1 Ted Williams
1 Ted Williams (Gray Back)
2 Gus Zernial
2 Gus Zernial (Gray Back)
3 Monte Irvin
3 Monte Irvin (Gray Back)
4 Hank Sauer
4 Hank Sauer (Gray Back)
5 Ed Lopat
5 Ed Lopat (Gray Back)
6 Pete Runnels
6 Pete Runnels (Gray Back)
7 Ted Kluszewski
7 Ted Kluszewski (Gray Back)
8 Bobby Young
8 Bobby Young (Gray Back)
9 Harvey Haddix
9 Harvey Haddix (Gray Back)
10 Jackie Robinson
10 Jackie Robinson (Gray Back)
11 Paul Smith
11 Paul Smith (Gray Back)
12 Del Crandall
12 Del Crandall (Gray Back)
13 Billy Martin
13 Billy Martin (Gray Back)
14 Preacher Roe
14 Preacher Roe (Gray Back)
15 Al Rosen
15 Al Rosen (Gray Back)
16 Vic Janowicz
16 Vic Janowicz (Gray Back)
17 Phil Rizzuto
17 Phil Rizzuto (Gray Back)
18 Walt Dropo
18 Walt Dropo (Gray Back)
19 Johnny Lipon
19 Johnny Lipon (Gray Back)
20 Warren Spahn
20 Warren Spahn (Gray Back)
21 Bobby Shantz
21 Bobby Shantz (Gray Back)
22 Jim Greengrass
22 Jim Greengrass (Gray Back)
23 Luke Easter
23 Luke Easter (Gray Back)
24 Granny Hamner
24 Granny Hamner (Gray Back)
25 Harvey Kuenn
25 Harvey Kuenn (Gray Back)
26 Ray Jablonski
26 Ray Jablonski (Gray Back)
27 Ferris Fain
27 Ferris Fain (Gray Back)
28 Paul Minner
28 Paul Minner (Gray Back)
29 Jim Hegan
29 Jim Hegan (Gray Back)
30 Ed Mathews
30 Ed Mathews (Gray Back)
31 Johnny Klippstein
31 Johnny Klippstein (Gray Back)
32 Duke Snider
32 Duke Snider (Gray Back)
33 Johnny Schmitz
33 Johnny Schmitz (Gray Back)
34 Jim Rivera
34 Jim Rivera (Gray Back)
35 Junior Gilliam
35 Junior Gilliam (Gray Back)
36 Hoyt Wilhelm
36 Hoyt Wilhelm (Gray Back)
37 Whitey Ford
37 Whitey Ford (Gray Back)
38 Eddie Stanky
38 Eddie Stanky (Gray Back)
39 Sherm Lollar
39 Sherm Lollar (Gray Back)
40 Mel Parnell
40 Mel Parnell (Gray Back)
41 Willie Jones
41 Willie Jones (Gray Back)
42 Don Mueller
42 Don Mueller (Gray Back)
43 Dick Groat
43 Dick Groat (Gray Back)
44 Ned Garver
44 Ned Garver (Gray Back)
45 Richie Ashburn
45 Richie Ashburn (Gray Back)
46 Ken Raffensberger
46 Ken Raffensberger (Gray Back)
47 Ellis Kinder
47 Ellis Kinder (Gray Back)
48 Billy Hunter
48 Billy Hunter (Gray Back)
49 Ray Murray
49 Ray Murray (Gray Back)
50 Yogi Berra
50 Yogi Berra (Gray Back)
51 Johnny Lindell
52 Vic Power
53 Jack Dittmer
54 Vern Stephens
55 Phil Cavarretta
56 Willie Miranda
57 Luis Aloma
58 Bob Wilson
59 Gene Conley
60 Frank Baumholtz
61 Bob Cain
62 Eddie Robinson
63 Johnny Pesky
64 Hank Thompson
65 Bob Swift
66 Ted Lepcio
67 Jim Willis
68 Sammy Calderone
69 Bud Podbielan
70 Larry Doby
71 Frank Smith
72 Preston Ward
73 Wayne Terwilliger
74 Bill Taylor
75 Fred Haney
76 Bob Scheffing
77 Ray Boone
78 Ted Kazanski
79 Andy Pafko
80 Jackie Jensen
81 Dave Hoskins
82 Milt Bolling
83 Joe Collins
84 Dick Cole
85 Bob Turley
86 Billy Herman
87 Roy Face
88 Matt Batts
89 Howie Pollet
90 Willie Mays
91 Bob Oldis
92 Wally Westlake
93 Sid Hudson
94 Ernie Banks
95 Hal Rice
96 Charlie Silvera
97 Jerry Lane
98 Joe Black
99 Bob Hofman
100 Bob Keegan
101 Gene Woodling
102 Gil Hodges
103 Jim Lemon
104 Mike Sandlock
105 Andy Carey
106 Dick Kokos
107 Duane Pillette
108 Thornton Kipper
109 Bill Bruton
110 Harry Dorish
111 Jim Delsing
112 Bill Renna
113 Bob Boyd
114 Dean Stone
115 Rip Repulski
116 Steve Bilko
117 Solly Hemus
118 Carl Scheib
119 Johnny Antonelli
120 Roy McMillan
121 Clem Labine
122 Johnny Logan
123 Bobby Adams
124 Marion Fricano
125 Harry Perkowski
126 Ben Wade
127 Steve O'Neill
128 Henry Aaron
129 Forrest Jacobs
130 Hank Bauer
131 Reno Bertoia
132 Tom Lasorda
133 Del Baker
134 Cal Hogue
135 Joe Presko
136 Connie Ryan
137 Wally Moon
138 Bob Borkowski
139 Ed O'Brien & Johnny O'Brien
140 Tom Wright
141 Joe Jay
142 Tom Poholsky
143 Rollie Hemsley
144 Bill Werle
145 Elmer Valo
146 Don Johnson
147 John Riddle
148 Bob Trice
149 Jim Robertson
150 Dick Kryhoski
151 Alex Grammas
152 Mike Blyzka
153 Rube Walker
154 Mike Fornieles
155 Bob Kennedy
156 Joe Coleman
157 Don Lenhardt
158 Peanuts Lowrey
159 Dave Philley
160 Red Kress
161 John Hetki
162 Herman Wehmeier
163 Frank House
164 Stu Miller
165 Jim Pendleton
166 Johnny Podres
167 Don Lund
168 Morrie Martin
169 Jim Hughes
170 Jim Rhodes
171 Leo Kiely
172 Hal Brown
173 Jack Harshman
174 Tom Qualters
175 Frank Leja
176 Bob Keely
177 Bob Milliken
178 Bill Glynn
179 Gair Allie
180 Wes Westrum
181 Mel Roach
182 Chuck Harmon
183 Earle Combs
184 Ed Bailey
185 Chuck Stobbs
186 Karl Olson
187 Heinie Manush
188 Dave Jolly
189 Bob Ross
190 Ray Herbert
191 Dick Schofield
192 Cot Deal
193 Johnny Hopp
194 Bill Sarni
195 Bill Consolo
196 Stan Jok
197 Schoolboy Rowe
198 Carl Sawatski
199 Rocky Nelson
200 Larry Jansen
201 Al Kaline
202 Bob Purkey
203 Harry Brecheen
204 Angel Scull
205 Johnny Sain
206 Ray Crone
207 Tom Oliver
208 Grady Hatton
209 Charlie Thompson
210 Bob Buhl
211 Don Hoak
212 Mickey Micelotta
213 John Fitzpatrick
214 Arnold Portocarrero
215 Ed McGhee
216 Al Sima
217 Paul Schreiber
218 Fred Marsh
219 Charlie Kress
220 Ruben Gomez
221 Dick Brodowski
222 Bill Wilson
223 Joe Haynes
224 Dick Weik
225 Don Liddle
226 Jehosie Heard
227 Buster Mills
228 Gene Hermanski
229 Bob Talbot
230 Bob Kuzava
231 Roy Smalley
232 Lou Limmer
233 Augie Galan
234 Jerry Lynch
235 Vern Law
236 Paul Penson
237 Mike Ryba
238 Al Aber
239 Bill Skowron
240 Sam Mele
241 Bob Miller
242 Curt Roberts
243 Ray Blades
244 Leroy Wheat
245 Roy Sievers
246 Howie Fox
247 Eddie Mayo
248 Al Smith
249 Wilmer Mizell
250 Ted Williams