1952 Topps: Bobby Young

Bobby Young fit the prototypical mold of a light-hitting defensive standout. He led the league several times in double plays but hit so poorly that he may as well have been replaced by a random minor league call-up. Of course, the St. Louis Browns and Baltimore Orioles of the 1950s were essentially minor league clubs that seasoned rookies before trading them to more popular teams, so in that sense it was good for them to have a popular hometown (Maryland) face on the field.

Young appeared in the 1954 Bowman set as one of the inaugural Orioles. He doesn’t look particularly thrilled in the photo. Maybe he’s just trying to look determined and acting as if he was a force to be reckoned with on the field. He apparently worked on his signature, adding a bit more style to the ending “g” in Young. He also completely switched up the way he wrote the letters “B” and “Y” to facilitate faster autographs. I guess it comes with the territory, as the biographical text on the back of the card leads off with “Bob is a good ball player.”

Photographer to ball player: Smile and say negative career WAR!

Young’s 1952 Topps card foreshadows the “good ball player” status when the biographical text says he “made good” with the Browns the prior year. He certainly looks pleased with his spot on the team. The card photo suggests he is hatching a plan to double his batting average by using two bats instead of one.

The condition is pretty rough, with a diamond-cut centering, staining and paper loss on the back, and some surface indentations on the front. The photo below makes the card look like one of the scarce “gray-back” third series cards, but in hand it is apparent this is only printed on the usual cream-colored cardboard.

Bob: “Haha, made you look.”