Baseball - Hall of Fame Players - Post War Rookies: Secretariat Image Gallery

Some would argue that even though Berra’s 1952 Topps is not his rookie or his most difficult card, it might be the most popular one on which the 10-time World Series champion appeared during his playing days. It has its advantages, including a slightly larger format, nice color, and the card is part of the most important post-WWII set in the hobby. That said, the nod would still have to go to Berra’s mainstream debut (#6) in the 1948 Bowman set. The issue may not receive any awards for outstanding design, but its simplicity is part of the appeal. The black-and-white format showcases a young Berra who helped continue a tradition of great Yankees catchers after Bill Dickey left the game. Berra’s Bowman rookie remains one of the keys to this 48-card set that contains several other Hall of Famer rookies like Musial and Warren Spahn.

Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford (October 21, 1928-) was a master at keep hitters off balance for the better half of two decades with the New York Yankees (1950, 1953-1967) earning him the nickname “Chairman of the Board”. Right out of the box, Ford made a significant impact on the Yankee rotation, going 9-1 in his first ten starts after being called up mid-season by the big club. Ford lost two years to the service but came back with a vengeance. During his amazing career, Whitey led the American League three times in wins and twice led in ERA and innings pitched. Ford threw 45 shutouts in 16 seasons including eight 1-0 victories. As a left-hander, Ford possessed an exceptional pickoff move to first, so effective that he went 243 straight innings without allowing a stolen base. Whitey Ford was a ten-time All-Star, six-time World Series champion and the 1961 World Series Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner. Whitey Ford retired with a 236-106 record with 1,956 strikeouts and a 2.74 earned run average. Ford remains the Yankees record holder for most career wins. Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford was elected o the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

There is no doubt about which Banks card rests atop all others on his master checklist. The 1954 Topps issue, one of the most popular baseball card sets ever made, is home to three ultra-important rookie cards of Hall of Famers. Along with Banks (#94), Hank Aaron and Al Kaline made their hobby debuts, while Ted Williams acted as a bookend to the set appearing on cards #1 and #250. One of the great aspects of his rookie card is how young Banks looks in his headshot. In fact, Banks is almost unrecognizable, but that young kid would soon win back-to-back NL MVP Awards. The card itself can be challenging to find well-centered and absent pesky print defects in the white background. It is the ultimate Banks card.

When it comes to collecting cardboard of “Hammerin’ Hank,” there is no disputing what card sits atop the rest. Aaron’s 1954 Topps rookie card #128 is not only the key to a set filled with other stars and rookies, like those of fellow Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Al Kaline, it remains one of the most recognizable images in the entire collecting world. As far as condition obstacles are concerned, poor centering, print defects in the orange background, and chipping along the green reverse are common. Beyond all of the accomplishments and gargantuan offensive numbers, the face of the 1954 Topps Aaron card symbolizes collecting. It may not generate quite the same reaction or illicit the same feelings that the 1952 Topps Mantle does, but it rests comfortably amongst the most important symbols the baseball card world has to offer.

The 1954 Topps set has always been one of the most revered baseball card issues of all time. With its booming colors and immense star selection, it’s easy to see why. Between the Ted Williams bookends, cards #1 and #250, are three key Hall of Famer rookie cards. Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and Kaline made their debuts here and were exclusive to Topps that year. They not only became stars, but all three were able to play in three different decades due to their tremendous longevity. The Kaline rookie in particular is a very eye-catching card, as his portrait and the yellow Tigers logo really pop against the background. That background can vary a little in color, from a rich cherry-red to one that exhibits a hint of orange, and it can be susceptible to print defects. Regardless, there is no doubt that the classic 1954 Topps rookie is the Kaline card to own.

In 1955, Topps produced one of its best-looking sets ever, and that is saying something considering that their previous three standard issues are all considered so appealing. The combination of color and artwork made for a spectacular visual. It was also the first time that Topps issued an entire set using a horizontal design. At the center of this beautiful set are three key rookie cards capturing the debuts of Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, and Killebrew. While Killebrew doesn’t quite have the name power of the other two legends, keep in mind that the slugger was one of the early members of the revered 500 Home Run Club. Like many of the cards in the set, the Killebrew rookie has tremendous eye appeal. The two most challenging, inherent condition obstacles are subpar centering and print defects that can impact the bright yellow background around both of Killebrew’s images.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the Clemente card that garners the lion’s share of collector attention is his 1955 Topps rookie card (#164). Along with debut singles of Koufax and Killebrew, the Clemente rookie anchors a set that many believe to be one of Topps’ best overall productions. While the Koufax and Clemente cards offer tremendous visual appeal and are extraordinarily popular, one of the advantages the Clemente rookie has over the Koufax is its difficulty to find in high grade. The card is clearly more elusive in PSA NM-MT 8 or better than the Koufax, and the price for cards of that quality are reflected in the marketplace. There are Clemente cards that possess superior scarcity, but no other card can compete with his official rookie when it comes to demand.

Drysdale has several regional and non-mainstream cards that offer a relative scarcity not found in the basic Topps sets, but the card that most collectors clamor for is his 1957 Topps #18 rookie. The simple design and great portrait of the big righty is a study in contrast. Along with Bob Gibson, there may have not been a more menacing man to step on the mound during his playing days, yet Drysdale’s nearly ear-to-ear smile on his cardboard debut gives you the opposite impression. That is, of course, until you stand too close to the plate and wind up with a fastball near your melon. Like most other 1957 Topps cards, the Drysdale rookie is commonly found with print defects in the background, along with subpar centering, but the card is attainable in high grade with patience.

Like most Hall of Famers who entered the league in the 1950s, Robinson has a mainstream rookie card that garners most of the attention from collectors. The 1957 Topps set contains several key rookie cards, including those of Don Drysdale, Bill Mazeroski, Brooks Robinson, Jim Bunning, and of course, Frank Robinson. This card (#35) remains one of the most valuable cards in the set, along with some of the other rookie cards and singles like those of Ted Williams, Mantle, and Sandy Koufax. It has also been picking up market momentum in recent years as more collectors are appreciating how underrated Robinson was as a player. In addition to being the official rookie card of this incredible all-around talent, it is also a reminder of the great rookie campaign Robinson had. It still ranks up there as one of the best in history and he was appropriately named NL Rookie of the Year for his performance. The background on the card can be a haven for print defects that are often referred to as “snow,” which is one of the condition obstacles for the card.

Juan Antonio Marichal Sanchez (October 20, 1937-) was renowned for his ultra-high leg kick during his windup and delivery on the mound. Marichal spent 14 seasons with the San Francisco Giants (1960-1973) and a total of 16 years in the big leagues, finishing his career doing one-year stints with the Red Sox and Dodgers, respectively. During the 1960s, the Dominican Republic native won more games than any other during that decade, including throwing a no-hitter against the Houston Colt .45s. Juan was a member of ten All-Star games and was the 1965 MLB All-Star Game MVP. Marichal led the National League in wins, complete games shutouts and innings pitched twice and led in ERA in 1969 with a 2.10 average. Juan Marichal retired with a 243-142 record posting 2,303 strikeouts and a career 2.89 ERA. Despite his amazing record during the 1960s, fellow NL pitchers Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax often overshadowed Marichal for MLB honors. Juan Antonio Marichal Sanchez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.