|1956 Topps #255|
I think it was either the summer of 1983 or 1984 when a shoebox of vintage baseball cards, football cards and a few non-sports cards arrived into my world. The box contained about a hundred cards dating between 1950 and 1956, and for the most part, they were all in excellent shape. A friend of the family was in the process of cleaning up and moving into her new house when she found the old shoebox and she wondered if the only kid she knew who collected baseball cards (me) would be interested in looking through it – maybe even taking the box off her hands.
|1956 Topps #155|
My parents asked me to pick out a few cards from the box, and then we’d return the rest to the family friend. Problem was, I wanted them all. I really wanted them all. I diligently and meticulously went through one of my price guides and determined the “value” of the treasure chest. I probably used my Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guide No. 4, edited by Dr. James Beckett, and I had no way to value the football or non-sports cards. My memory is fuzzy, and I can't find the original tally, but I think I came up with the box being worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 to $400, which I knew my parents definitely did not have in their discretionary spending budget. But they could tell how much I wanted those cards, as I lovingly studied each and every one and handled each as if it were some long-lost artifact.
|1956 Topps #168|
Within the spoils were 44 cards from the 1956 Topps set – by far the most cards from any one set. I studied them, I sorted them, and I pretty much memorized every detail of those 44 cards. There were no Phillies cards in the Original 44, but I've selected players with Phillie ties from the lot to display here. (See my explanations at the bottom of this post.)
|1956 Topps #222|
And so a few years later, in the summer of 1987 while on a family vacation, I was giddy with excitement when we came across a few ’56 Topps cards in the Walker Gallery on the main drag in Cooperstown, New York. My Dad and I studied the cards for sale and he casually asked me the question, “Why don’t we try to put together the whole set?” We bought four cards that day for $9.25. Those cards, along with the 44 from the magic shoebox, became the basis for our 1956 Topps set.
No Phillies: There were no Phillies in the Original 44, but there were a few players with Phillie ties. Hall of Famer Bob Lemon was the team's pitching coach in 1961. Harvey Kuenn finished up his 15-year career in the Majors by playing in 86 games for the 1966 Phillies and hitting .296. Dave Philley was with the Phillies from 1958 to 1960. He hit an even .300 in 204 games. Sammy White served as the team's back-up catcher in 1962, making it into 41 games and hitting .216.