Better Late Than Never: A Rookie Card Two Years After His Last At-Bat

Bob Wellman’s appearance in the 1952 Topps baseball card set is a bit unique. It is his rookie card and comes decades before a few minor league issues would commemorate his work as a coach and team manager in the farm systems of the Reds and Phillies. He is one of several players that made their only appearance in the set, yet Bob stands alone. Why? Because he last set foot inside an MLB game in 1950, two years before Topps put him in the leadoff series of its 1952 offering.

Not only is this Wellman’s only card, it also portrays a player with the shortest playing time in the ’52 set. He garnered only 28 plate appearances across 15 games in 1948-1950. He had only a lone RBI, scoring himself with a solo home run in 1950.

Despite this limited playing time, he still ranks higher than more than a dozen other position players in the ’52 Topps checklist. That home run helped raise his weighted on base metric to .379, on par with many of the top hitters of the era.

Given his lack of MLB playing time, Wellman’s photograph on his 1952 Topps card is likely from his 1950 season. Note the gold piping present on his jersey and around the “A” on his cap, features that made a brief appearance in the team’s color scheme for that season. The text on the back of his card leads off with “Bob is aiming at another try with the A’s…” My sights are set a bit lower, with my personal goal for the card just to keep the upper left corner attached.