Every set of cards has a player that stands out as the best. The usually unsaid truth is every set of cards has a player that stands out for futility on the diamond. That player in 1952 Topps is Ed Blake, a Cincinnati Reds reliever who prompted me to increase the Y-axis of my pitcher comparison chart. He saw action in a handful of appearances from 1951-1957 but was pretty much shelled in each one. Over the course of his career batters hit .357 against him, a figure 21 points higher than 1952’s batting champion Stan Musial exhibited that year.
Four of his career 8 2/3 innings came in 1951. In the span of recording those first 12 outs he gave up double digit hits, three homeruns, and a walk. He settled down in 1952, appearing in 3 innings and somehow managed not to give up a run. He returned in 1953 but could not record a single out in his only appearance, allowing every batter he faced to reach base and finishing the season with an infinite ERA. Four years later the Kansas City Athletics took a chance and put him into two games where he promptly walked batters and surrendered a homerun.
Topps seemed to recognize that Blake wouldn’t make it long in baseball. The writeup on the back of his 1952 card describes him as a future lawyer rather than talking up his future prospects with Cincinnati. The legal field didn’t work out for him either as he eventually found his way into a career in plumbing.
Given Blake’s standing among the other players depicted in the set, I wanted to make sure I had a nice, clean example to show off. The editor colorizing the photo gave Blake a solid blue background and even feathered in a white halo effect around his head. Topps spent more time making this card look good than many others in the set.