When people ask what we at Mile High Card Company do for a living, we usually tell them, “Same thing we did in 6th grade, play with baseball cards!” Obviously it’s a quite a bit more complicated than that, but with all the hard work and dedication we put into consistently producing one of the finest auctions in the hobby, we still marvel at the quality of material that passes through our doors, whether it’s something we’ve seen over and over or a rare piece surfacing for the first time. Sadly, there are those in this industry that look at sports cards as merely a means to make a living, seeing just little pieces of cardboard encased in plastic to be bought and sold for profit. And while what we do won’t cure a wasting disease or solve the plight of hunger or global conflict, we do have a passion for the hobby that drives us to deliver a first-rate catalog time after time, presenting auction material the way we’d want it to be presented if we were the consignor. So as our new catalog auction gears up to begin on October 24th, we thought we’d share our “Staff Picks.” Presenting our favorite Topps sets:
Brian Drent – President and CEO: 1952 Topps
A traditionalist through and through! If you ever had a sit-down with Brian and just discussed baseball cards, you’d see that he sounds more like a collector than an auctioneer. I expected Brian to pick this set for two reasons: respect for its importance to the hobby and the challenge of building it in high grade. There are so many layers to the ’52 Topps set that it’s almost a separate hobby within the hobby. Of course, there’s the Mickey Mantle card, the lead issue of the enigmatic high-number series, a 97-card collection that has its own folklore. Then there’s the “why him?” card #1 Andy Pafko, the handful of commons that are inexplicably difficult to find in high-grade, and the back variations of the low series that make the 1952 Topps set seem like a dysfunctional family that somehow manages to get along perfectly when sitting around the dinner table at Thanksgiving. It’s easy to pick the ’52 set just for the Mantle, but there are so many other reasons as well!
Ben Gassaway – Auction Coordinator: 1953 Topps
I was a little surprised that Ben chose the 1953 Topps set, but I can understand why. Sure, the 1952 set gets most of the accolades as the inaugural issue and the birthplace of the iconic Mickey Mantle card, but if we’re really being honest with ourselves, there’s no better assemblage for sheer aesthetics than the ’53 series. The intricate detail of the player depictions on each card far surpasses the quality of the 1952 set, right down to the advertising on the outfield fences in the backdrop of most issues. While it doesn’t carry the financial swagger of the ’52 set with virtually all of the potential for key rookie issues gobbled up by the premier series, the ’53 set is easier to build in high-grade than its predecessor, has a tough but not crazy-hard high-number series, a smaller 274-card size, and a smattering of short-prints that make life more interesting. Plus it’s got Mantle, Mays, J. Robinson, and the addition of a Satchel Paige card that are arguably the best looking issues ever produced for each player.
Mitch Rosenberg – Senior Writer: 1957 Topps
I might have gone with the 1955 set if not for one thing that’s unfortunately a deal-breaker: no Mickey Mantle card. But to me, the 1957 Topps set is the complete package. At 407 cards, it’s large enough to present a challenge but small enough so that you won’t have to lose your mind trying to find those last six cards to complete it. It’s the first Topps set with live, on-field shots that lend an authenticity to the series, as if you’re at the ballpark taking the photo yourself. It’s also loaded with great rookie cards of Hall of Famers: Drysdale, Mazeroski, Herzog, F. Robinson, B. Robinson and Bunning, in addition to the debut of Colavito, Richardson and Kubek. It’s got a tougher mid-series that provides a touch of card-collecting drama, a Mickey Mantle card that’s one of the best, and a “Yankee Power Hitters” card that closes out the collection in style. Yeah, if we were using today’s vernacular to sell this set, the slogan might be, “1957 Topps: it just got real!”
Kyle Boetel – Generalist: 1967 Topps
Though revered as the first set he ever collected as a kid, Kyle has plenty of great points as to why the 1967 Topps series is his favorite. Like the ’53 Bowman Color collection (his second choice), the ’67 Topps series offers amazingly bright and precise color photographs that far surpassed any that came before it. The 609-card series also features key rookie cards of Tom Seaver and Rod Carew with a high-numbers series filled with difficult but attainable cards in top grade. There are even a few quirky variation cards that are fun to collect if you can find them, and a classic portrait shot of Mickey Mantle against a baby-blue backdrop that many collectors think is his most attractive card of the decade. Unfortunately, his dog took a piece out of the Mantle card he owned as a kid, but these things happen.
Whatever drives your passion, we at Mile High Card Company will continue to do our best in helping you achieve you card-collecting goals with the same enthusiasm for presenting material as you have for collecting it. When that catalog hits our hands for the first time, as it will again very soon, we still feel that adrenaline rush, and we already know what’s in it! As long as we still approach our trade with the same excitement for each catalog as we did for our first, we’re gonna continue to offer the best material with the respect it deserves. Good luck and good bidding!