The 1950s Were a Good Time to be a Yankee Lifer

I recently visited my first card show in two decades. Though the room was crowded and most tables were filled with parallels of modern sets, there were four with 1952 Topps cards on display. Three had a handful of higher-grade stars but not much beyond that. A massive display in the corner of the room had multiple binders of mid-grade ’52s along with several common bins. The proprietor was clad in a New York Yankees jersey and knew his inventory inside and out. I showed him a picture of my Hoyt Wilhelm card and he said he had just the card for me. He reached into a seemingly random box of mixed commons and immediately fished out the card you see below.

It’s easy to see why the dealer thought this was a good match for my collection. The card has been folded repeatedly in every direction, seemingly balled up at some point for an impromptu game of baseball. The seller explained that the card was at his table in support of OBC, an online group of collectors that help each other source low-grade commons for building vintage sets. This is definitely something to check out and could prove helpful in building the ’52 set.

Joe Collins: Yankee for Life

Collins was a Yankee lifer, playing his entire career with the organization. Signed by a Yankee farm-affiliate in 1939, he debuted with the parent team nearly a decade later with 5 at-bats in 1948 and a follow-up 16 plate appearances in ’49. His first full season was 1950, which culminated with Collins playing in 7 of the next 8 World Series. The one year New York missed the Series was 1954, a season in which Collins was 1 of 7 Yankee position players generating at least 120 OPS+.

Collins’ Last Card May Be the Toughest

The 1952 Joe Collins certainly has one of the better backdrops with a view of Yankee Stadium. As part of the ’52 Topps set it is one of the key cards documenting his career but is not the one that stumps set builders the most. That title resides with his final cardboard appearance in 1957. That year Topps issued cards as usual across multiple series in a staggered release. Unlike previous years, cards in the fourth series proved to be the most elusive. As card #295, Collins falls squarely inside the fourth series checklist.

There are a dozen bats pictured on Joe Collins’ 1957 Topps baseball card.