Not that long after I made the Bobby Tiefenauer post I found that all his Toronto stats (at least from the first go-round) could be found on his ’59 Topps card. I didn’t have any of this set and I kind of wanted one, so I picked this one up.
I always felt that 1959 Topps baseball and 1959-60 Topps hockey were basically cut from the same cloth. Now, I could finally put them side by side and see how they related.
Both sets made use of a basic geometric shape cut out from a block of colour that sets off the player image. The baseball player’s image is entirely contained within a circular cut-out while the hockey player is superimposed on a white rectangular cutout. The baseball set is a bit more avant-garde with the rakish diagonal script and the name in all lower case. The hockey design is more squared-off. They’re clearly related, though. If you knew ’59 baseball and I asked you to pick out ’59 hockey from a bunch of different sets, it wouldn’t be that hard.
The backs are where they really diverge.
The thing I was most interested in with ’59 baseball was the full stats on the back. This simply doesn’t exist in hockey cards from that era. The first instance of full stats in hockey came in 1971-72. Simply seeing stats like in this case that date back to the 1940s and sometimes earlier – that’s just cool in and of itself. The only thing I find a little disappointing is that there’s not a ton of contrast on this back and the whole thing seems pretty hard to read.
Contrast this to the hockey back. It uses the exact same red on the same grey card stock, but the text colour is black rather than green. The result is that the whole thing is punchy and very readable, even with the smaller font required by the bilingual text. Kind of hate to say it because I know that ’59 ball is iconic, but the hockey back is better, weak stats and all.
Both sets came with cards that were predominantly yellow, red, green or blue. From what I’ve seen, I think blue looks the best for both of them.
Of course, there was another set in 1959, and it’s probably my favourite of the lot:
1959-60 Parkhurst has one bad quality – they age really poorly. Finding examples that are still white is tough and they bring a premium. This is actually true of almost all Parkhurst cards. The design element for this set was the vaguely stick-like swoopy thing upon which all the shots are superimposed. The swoopy things come in red, yellow or blue. The back isn’t really up to Parkhurst’s standard for wordy write-ups. Many cards have either game instructions or game clues on them and this takes up all the space where text would otherwise go. Of course, it’s just the single line of stats.
The biggest difference between the three sets is price. The stars get expensive in all of them, but I was amazed to find nice-looking raw ’59 baseball commons selling for less than five dollars. 1959-60 Topps hockey is rarely seen under about $14-15 and Parkhurst starts at about $20. Fortunately, in hockey, there are only 116 cards between the two sets.