The Imaginary White Sox Outfielder in ’52 Topps

It’s time to really ramp up your Immaculate Grid rarity score. When asked for the name of a player who donned the uniforms of both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, look no further than Marv Rickert. He joined only 6 games with the Reds (all as a pinch hitter) and played in just 20 contests for the Pirates. He was primarily an outfielder, but the expediencies of filling out lineup cards gave him a lifetime total of 20 appearances as a first baseman between the Cubs, Braves, and White Sox. Slot him in your grid as the ChiSox first baseman and you’ll be light years ahead of the 35% of respondents typing out “Frank Thomas.”

Such short tenure is understandable, as Rickert’s career offensive and defensive metrics produced negative WAR values. He actually finished with the 10th highest strikeout total of any batter in 1946 despite playing only a partial season. The White Sox picked him up for 84 games in 1950 but sold his contract rights to the Phillies at the end of the year. Philadelphia immediately assigned him to their International League affiliate in Baltimore. Rickert, who had hit all of 19 home runs across more than 1,200 sporadic plate appearances, promptly topped the 1951 leader boards with 35 home runs.

Topps was suitably impressed with this newfound power and presumed he would soon be coming back to the major league ballparks. Rickert’s name was included in the first series of 1952 Topps, whose cards first began to appear on store shelves in March. He was still a AAA-level player in the Phillies organization, so Sy Berger and company elected to portray him as a member of the team he had last played for in MLB. The result was Marv Rickert wearing an outdated White Sox cap on a card listing him on the back as a Chicago outfielder, all in a baseball card issued two years after his MLB career was over.

My Rickert card is shown above. It is obviously in terrible condition, but the front still presents nicely. The back is where most the damage has accumulated, giving me pause every time I look at it. Someone actually collected this card and pasted it into some sort of scrapbook! Someone cared about this card, and presumably followed Rickert’s moves as he angled for a return to the majors. That’s fantastic.

A Moment When It Was All Worth It: Rickert and fellow Chicago Cub Eddie Waitkus combined to set an MLB record when they hit back-to-back inside the park home runs in a 1946 game.