The Patch Card in 1952 Topps

The 1952 Topps card of Stubby Overmire makes use of one of the better photos in the ’52 Topps set. The Yankee Stadium facade forms a perfect backdrop for the newly acquired Yankee hurler. Topps had made widespread use of older photographs in its 1952 set but managed to get a very recent snapshot of Overmire, who only pitched in eight New York home games since being acquired in a mid-season trade with Detroit.

Other players with not so current photos were saw their face appear on ’52 Topps cards in artistically-adjusted uniforms. Steve Souchock has a fake Detroit Tigers cap superimposed over his Yankee uniform. Con Dempsey’s PCL Seals uniform shows up as a Philadelphia Phillies uniform that he never once tried on. What makes it so certain that Topps didn’t do the same with this Overmire image?

The key lies in the prominent black and white patch appearing on Overmire’s left sleeve. The 1951 season marked the 50th year of baseball for the American League and its constituent players all donned Golden Anniversary patches on their uniforms. A quick glance through the checklist shows only Overmire having such a highly visible placement of this very time-specific adornment. The original patch is much more colorful than what Topps’ coloring contractors gave it credit for. A healthy dose of red, white, and blue accompany gold design elements.

I went looking for more cards with such a patch and did not find many. The most interesting one comes from the 1947-1966 Exhibits set, a card that was issued in vending machines as part of a nearly two-decade issuance. The Mickey Mantle from this release features the switch hitter turning towards the camera with his Golden Anniversary patch showing. While the card was issued pretty much throughout Mantle’s career, it depicts him in his rookie season.

Can optimists call this a rookie card?

Stubby’s Card Show

Overmire grew up in Michigan and became a local favorite when he debuted with Detroit in 1943. Two years later he was pitching for the Tigers in the World Series. He was largely done as a major leaguer when his Topps card was released, but picked up a second World Series ring as part of the ’51 Yankees.

Collectors looking for the ’52 Topps Overmire card stand a pretty good chance of finding one in the Grand Rapids metro area, just up the road from his hometown of Moline. Wyoming Lee High School holds an annual baseball card show to support the school’s athletic teams and has named the event after its famous pitcher.