Thursday, December 27, 2018

Eight from 1956 Topps

I showed a few 1956 Topps I picked up a while ago.  Then I went and bought some more.  I'm definitely not collecting the set, so I'm not entirely sure why I keep buying them.  But it is a really beautiful set, so they're hard to resist, I guess.
Gus Bell, Cincinnati Redlegs.
Elmer Valo, Kansas City A's.
Of these eight cards, which arrived in my COMC Black Friday box, I mostly bought them to feature teams that no longer exist, at least in their configurations back then.  So we start off with the Cincinnati Redlegs, who called themselved that briefly, rather than Reds, at the height of the Red Scare; I showed another Redlegs card just recently.  I'm also glad to have a nice card of Buddy's dad Gus.  Then we have Elmer Valo of the Kansas City A's.  When I was growing up I knew the A's were in Oakland but had been in Philadelphia (Connie Mack still loomed large enough in Philadelphia baseball history for me to know about those old A's teams as a little kid in the 80s), but it came as something of a shock to me to learn that they made a stopover in Kansas City for a few years.  So now I have a couple of Kansas City A's cards, which in a way are a part of Philadelphia baseball history, in my collection.

Elmer Valo was born in what is now Slovakia in 1921.  He had a long career from 1940 through 1961, with the Philadelphia Athletics for many years but then with the Kansas City A's, Phillies, Brooklyn Dodgers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Indians, Yankees, Senators, and Twins.  So he was with three different teams that moved cities during his tenure with them.  Valo was a career .282 hitter with 1420 total hits and 601 RBI.  Valo is on the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame.
Curt Simmons.
Vic Power, Kansas City A's.
I showed another card, the 1955 Bowman, of Curt Simmons recently.  He was a solid pitcher for many years who is of interest to me as part of the 1950 Whiz Kids; he had other career highlights including winning the World Series with the 1964 Cardinals.  Vic Power is another of the Kansas City A's, who also started with them in Philadelphia and made the move.  Power was a six-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner in his career from 1954 through 1965.  He is considered to be one of the greatest Puerto Rican baseball players.  Comparing the two A's cards, you see that Topps spelled out "Athletics" on the Valo card but abbreviated "A's" on the Power card.
Ruben Gomez, New York Giants.
Hank Thompson, New York Giants.
Then I picked up two New York Giants, Ruben Gomez and Hank Thompson.  Their hats look different colors, with the Gomez hat looking black and the Thompson hat looking blue.  I've read that the Mets took the blue hat from the Dodgers and the orange "NY" logo from the Giants, so I wouldn't have thought the New York Giants had a blue hat.  Gomez and Thompson were both part of the 1954 champion Giants team.  For Thompson, 1956 was his last year in the majors.  Thompson was the first black player to play for the St. Louis Browns, playing with them on July 17, 1947.  On July 20, he and Willard Brown both played with the Browns, making the first MLB game to have more than one black player in a lineup.  Later that season in a game against Cleveland, he and Larry Doby became the first black players to play in the same game on opposing teams on the field at the same time.

Ruben Gomez pitched in the majors from 1953 through 1967, but with some gaps.  He wasn't in the majors in 1961 or 1963, and played in Mexico from 1964 through 1966.  In the 1954 championship season, he went 17-9 with a 2.88 ERA.  Other than the New York and San Francisco Giants, he played with the Phillies, Indians, and Twins in his MLB career.  He also had a lot of success continuing to play in Puerto Rico afterwards.
Gus Triandos, Baltimore Orioles.
Sherm Lollar.
Closing this post out, we have Gus Triandos of the Baltimore Orioles and Sherm Lollar of the White Sox.  These two, like the Curt Simmons above, don't fit the "teams that no longer are" paradigm.  But the Orioles are the flipside of that, with the Orioles only having recently come into existence in 1956, when the Browns moved from St. Louis to Baltimore for the 1954 season.  And the White Sox have nothing to do with the moving of teams, of course, but I liked the old White Sox hat on Lollar in his picture.  Lollar was a 9-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, and was on the 1947 champion Yankees team.  Triandos was a four-time All-Star.

Thanks for reading!

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