The Ex-Manager in ’52 Topps

There are a handful of fairly unique positions depicted on baseball cards, such as Herb Washington’s title of “Pinch Runner” in the 1975 Topps set. The 1952 edition includes an oddity of its own: Card #289 depicts Boston Braves fan favorite Tommy Holmes as “Ex-Manager.” He’s even shown holding a clipboard. Holmes had been let go in late May that year and picked up as a player by the Brooklyn Dodgers in mid-June, giving some indication as to when Topps was designing the semi-high number series to which this card belongs.

Holmes’ managerial career never amount to much, but he was certainly a very good ball player. He challenged for the 1945 NL MVP, finishing either 1st or 2nd in each of the Triple Crown categories. A career .302 hitter, he was almost impossible to strike out. His 2.2% lifetime strikeout rate is among the lowest in history. He whiffed only 9 times in the 1945 campaign despite coming to the plate 713 times. He finished his career with more than twice as many doubles as strikeouts.

With an annual average of more than 4 wins above replacement, playing more than 11 seasons could have put Holmes into rarified territory.