Baseball Card Series Picks Top Sox, Cubs Lineups Of All Time

Rick Gregg
November 05, 2018 - 7:18 am
Luis Aparicio Topps baseball card

Courtesy Topps

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- There’s still nothing quite like the feeling of ripping open a pack of baseball cards - and finding one of the greats inside.

The folks at Topps have made ‘em all.  The folks at Beckett baseball have opened ‘em all.  And this year they joined forces to lay out the top baseball card lineups of every MLB team.

“Some of the teams were quite easy,” said Beckett Baseball editor Mike Payne. “Some of the players were quite easy. Others were far more difficult.”

Here in Chicago, that means a pair of lists, and a multitude of debates -- not only which player to choose at which position for the Cubs and the White Sox, but also which card to represent that player.

“What we didn’t want to do,” said Payne, “was just get somebody’s most expensive card because we want people to participate in collecting, and not everybody can afford a three-or-four-hundred dollar card.  So we got some cards that are far less costly, but every bit as important to that player and the franchise.”

Topps

That led to a few obvious choices, like Ryne Sandberg’s 1983 rookie card (“That’s a really iconic card from a very cool set,” says Payne) or Minnie Minoso’s entry from the 1952 Topps set (“1952 is really one of the most important card releases ever,” he said).

But it also led to some cards casual fans and collectors might not remember.  Like a 2002 Topps Tribute card celebrating Cubs center fielder Hack Wilson.

“Hack Wilson was a personality too - bigger than life, even though his stature wasn’t that big,” said Payne.

Other representative cards include a Frank Thomas 1990 Topps rookie card, which is worth a couple of bucks - unless you happened to get extremely lucky 28 years ago.  

“There was an error version that did not include his name,” said Payne. “So it was just a blank blue box down at the bottom. THAT is several thousand dollars if you find one.  No one knows how many there are, but there aren’t many.”

Willson Contreras Baseball Card from Topps
Courtesy Topps

Topps and Beckett chose eleven players for each team.  That’s a total of 22 for the Cubs and Sox combined - and only one is still active.  Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, represented by a 2016 Bowman card.

“We love Contreras,” Payne said, “and both Beckett and Topps believe that Contreras offers identity to young collectors who can appreciate his contributions to a World Series champion.  Gabby Hartnett is a Hall of Famer. We looked at some other guys - Randy Huntley, Jody Davis - but Contreras offers a package of what he’s done at such a young age, and what lies ahead.”

The full lists are available at 30teams30weeks.com.  You can also examine a sampling of the cards below:

Mike Payne, Beckett: “This was the first Topps card that Grace appeared on, so it was kind of an obvious pick.  Grace was...man, he was really good, and I’m not sure people really appreciate what he brought. The other guy that pushed him at that position
Courtesy Topps

Cubs 1B: Mark Grace, 1988 Topps Traded

Mike Payne, Beckett: “This was the first Topps card that Grace appeared on, so it was kind of an obvious pick.  Grace was...man, he was really good, and I’m not sure people really appreciate what he brought. The other guy that pushed him at that position was Cap Anson...Cap Anson’s a Hall of Famer, but it’s so hard to take two guys and compare them when their eras were so vastly different.  Ultimately Mark Grace was the consensus among all of us.”

Payne: “This was a Frank Thomas rookie card, and this is the regular rookie card for Frank.  There was an error version that did not include his name, so it was just a blank blue box down at the bottom.  THAT is several thousand dollars if you find one. N
Courtesy Topps

White Sox 1B: Frank Thomas, 1990 Topps

Payne: “This was a Frank Thomas rookie card, and this is the regular rookie card for Frank.  There was an error version that did not include his name, so it was just a blank blue box down at the bottom.  THAT is several thousand dollars if you find one. No one knows how many there are, but there aren’t many. What I kind of find interesting about this is, if you look close at the runner that he’s tagging out, while he was playing first at Auburn - the runner doesn’t seem to have a face!  He’s just kind of a faceless guy! What’s the deal?”

Ernie Banks Topps Card
Courtesy Topps

Cubs SS: Ernie Banks, 1954 Topps

Payne: “‘54 Topps holds three cards, three important and iconic cards.  Banks is one of them, but also that year Topps included Hank Aaron’s rookie card and Al Kaline’s rookie card.  Banks’ card ranks right there with Kaline as a really important part of the early ‘50s. It’s getting up there in value, depending on condition.  When people think of Topps and Ernie Banks, this is the card that comes to mind.”

Luis Aparicio Topps baseball card
Courtesy Topps

White Sox SS: Luis Aparicio, 1956 Topps

Payne: “[Ozzie] Guillen’s name was brought up.  But Aparicio is a Hall of Famer. That guy ran the bases like no one else.  He was just steady excellence, and man could he field his position. This was his rookie card...he was the Rookie of the Year that year...so we matched the award with his career.”

Beckett Baseball editor Mike Payne: “Isn’t that a great looking card?  I love the wood border, and whenever I think of the ‘80s, this is the first card that I think of, this set, this ‘87 set.  The Hawk won the MVP with a last-place Cubs team, which is sa
Courtesy Topps

Cubs UT: Andre Dawson, 1987 Topps Traded

Payne: “Isn’t that a great looking card?  I love the wood border, and whenever I think of the ‘80s, this is the first card that I think of, this set, this ‘87 set.  The Hawk won the MVP with a last-place Cubs team, which is saying a lot in indicating how important he was to the Cubs at this time.  That guy could drive a ball, and that season was really one of the best in Cubs history.”

Payne: “This was an easy card to pick.  He was so important to that ‘05 team. How many times did he come up big in that postseason?  This card kind of honors him for his accomplishments in that ‘05 championship team and everything that he did in the clutc
Courtesy Topps

White Sox UT: Paul Konerko, 2005 Topps Update

Payne: “This was an easy card to pick.  He was so important to that ‘05 team. How many times did he come up big in that postseason?  This card kind of honors him for his accomplishments in that ‘05 championship team and everything that he did in the clutch.  We thought this one captured the pinnacle of his career and one of the most important times in White Sox history.”

Willson Contreras Baseball Card from Topps
Courtesy Topps

Cubs C: Willson Contreras, 2016 Bowman

Payne: “This was a difficult pick. You had to have a Topps card.  Gabby Hartnett would have been our pick, but he surprisingly does not have a Topps card.  Gabby Hartnett is a Hall of Famer. We looked at some other guys - Randy Huntley, Jody Davis - but Contreras offers a package of what he’s done at such a young age, and what lies ahead.”

Payne: “The ‘81 Topps Traded set was the first that Topps packaged in a box...I think there were 132 different cards in the box, and you bought it as a set.  They included Fisk with the White Sox because they didn’t have a White Sox card of him in their ‘
Courtesy Topps

White Sox C: Carlton Fisk, 1981 Topps Traded

Payne: “The ‘81 Topps Traded set was the first that Topps packaged in a box...I think there were 132 different cards in the box, and you bought it as a set.  They included Fisk with the White Sox because they didn’t have a White Sox card of him in their ‘81 regular set, which was printed before they could get a picture.  This is really a cool looking card. Ozzie Smith is also in this ‘81 Topps Traded set, his first Cardinals card...as is the first regular card, shown alone, of Tim Raines and Fernando Valenzuela.  But there it is, [Fisk’s] first White Sox card.”