The Cowboy Appearing in 1952 Topps

I’m always a fan of reading about ballplayers’ offseason pursuits. Dave Philley’s 1952 Topps card casually ends the biographic text on the back of the card with, “Dave raises cattle during the off-season.” Oh really? It turns out Dave was a genuine Texas cowboy working a ranch with his brother in Paris, Texas. The cattle business remained part of his story for quite a while, though he stuck around in baseball as long as he could.

The Athletics’ outfielder had a decent bat and played with intensity, once breaking his nose diving into the stands for a foul ball. Towards the end of his career he shifted into a multiyear role as a pinch hitter. In this position he set a series of odd records, including getting 9 straight pinch hits.

This was the fourth card I picked up in pursuit of the 1952 Topps set. It is not, however, one of the cards I would consider as defining his mark on baseball. That honor goes to his 1961 and 1962 Topps cards that depict him in the pinch-hitter stage of his career. The ’61 card describes his position as “infielder-outfielder.” The ’62 issue shows him as an outfielder, though the text on the reverse only refers to his pinch-hitting exploits. Both cards have nearly identical photos that were apparently taken in the same shoot. Philley is wearing a Baltimore Orioles uniform in front of a dugout on his ’61 Topps. As a member of the Boston Red Sox (his 9th team) the following year he is shown having removed his hat. The curled paper design of the ’62 Topps set obscures the edge of the Orioles logo on his jersey sleeve, allowing Topps to get away with the age-old tradition of photographing oft-traded players without hats in order to save on photo retouching costs.