|Red Back Card #10 - Mel Parnell||Blue Back Card #6 - Red Schoendienst|
The Topps Chewing Gum Co. of Brooklyn, New York issued its first national baseball card sets in 1951. Issued in two series, they are known as Red Backs and Blue Backs, as that is the major difference in design between the two series. Sold two perforated cards to a package with something called "Baseball Candy," the cards are designed to be a deck of cards for an elementary baseball game. The 2" by 2-5/8" cards carry a black and white player photo on a red, white, yellow and green background along with the player's name and short statistical information on the front. Below the lower right side of the player picture is a card number; in the Red Back series, it shows as the "A" series and the Blue Backs are the "B" series. These cards were printed on thick cardboard and have lasted well over the years; however, as a small issue with relatively few stars (particularly in the Blue Back series), they do not currently enjoy a great deal of popularity.
Despite Bowman's claim of "exclusive" rights to player images, Topps was able to secure a small handful of players through a deal with a group called Players Enterprises that worked to get endorsements for its clients. This gave Topps the ability to include players in its sets; their use of candy instead of gum didn't stop Bowman from suing them for infringement. When the judge ruled in favor of Topps, it opened the doors for them to get ready for 1952. As they began signing more players to contracts and planning to compete directly with Bowman, the two companies would come out with some of the best-loved card sets in hobby history.
Among notable cards in these sets: Monte Irvin's rookie card, Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, Duke Snider and Warren Spahn are Red Backs, while Johnny Mize and Richie Ashburn are two of the few Blue Back stars. Two variations appear among Red Backs; Gus Zernial can be found as a member of the White Sox or A's and Tommy Holmes can be found as a Brave or with Hartford. Both cards were updated after early-season moves.
Since a warehouse of unopened boxes of Red Back cards was discovered in the mid-80s, the Blue Backs are scarcer and more valuable. Although collector interest in these sets has been fairly tepid, these cards can usually be found at a fair buying price when compared to other sets of the era. That is, when they can be found. They don't appear on dealer tables or store displays as often as Topps' other 1950s cards. Despite the lack of attention by hobbyists and the fact that some hobby price guides have left both sets out of their listings, this set is signifcant as the earliest Topps baseball issue.
|Red Back||Blue Back|
|1951 Topps Wax Pack||1951 Topps Display Box|
1. Eddie Yost 2. Henry Majeski 3. Richie Ashburn 4. Del Ennis 5. Johnny Pesky 6. Albert Schoendienst 7. Gerald Staley 8. Dick Sisler 9. Johnny Sain 10. Joe Page 11. Johnny Groth 12. Sam Jethroe 13. James Vernon 14. George Munger 15. Eddie Joost 16. Murry Dickson 17. Roy Smalley 18. Ned Garver 19. Phil Masi 20. Ralph Branca 21. Billy Johnson 22. Bob Kuzava 23. Paul Trout 24. Sherman Lollar 25. Sam Mele 26. Chico Carresquel 27. Andy Pafko 28. Harry Breechen 29. Granville Hamner 30. Enos Slaughter 31. Lou Brissie 32. Bob Elliott 33. Don Lenhardt 34. Earl Torgeson 35. Tommy Byrne 36. Cliff Fannin 37. Bobby Doerr 38. Irv Noren 39. Ed Lopat 40. Vic Wertz 41. Johnny Schmitz 42. Bruce Edwads 43. Willie Jones 44. Johnny Wyrostek 45. Bill Pierce 46. Jerry Priddy 47. Herman Wehmeier 48. Billy Cox 49. Henry Sauer 50. Johnny Mize 51. Eddie Waitkus 52. Sam Chapman
1. Larry Berra 2. Sid Gordon 3. Ferris Fain 4. Verne Stephens 5. Phil Rizzuto 6. Allie Reynolds 7. Howie Pollett 8. Early Wynn 9. Roy Sievers 10. Mel Parnell 11. Gene Hermanski 12. Jim Hegan 13. Dale Mitchell 14. Wayne Terwilliger 15. Ralph Kiner 16. Preacher Roe 17. Dave Bell 18. Gerry Coleman 19. Dick Kokos 20. Dominick DiMaggio 21. Larry Jansen 22. Bob Feller 23. Ray Boone 24. Hank Bauer 25. Cliff Chambers 26. Luke Easter 27. Wally Westlake 28. Elmer Valo 29. Bob Kennedy 30. Warren Spahn 31. Gil Hodges 32. Henry Thompson 33. William Werle 34. Grady Hatton 35. Al Rosen 36a. Gus Zernial (Chicago in bio) 36b. Gus Zernial (Philadelphia in bio) 37. Wes Westrum 38. Ed Snider 39. Ted Kluszewski 40. Mike Gargia 41. Whitey Lockman 42. Ray Scarborough 43. Maurice McDermott 44. Sid Hudson 45. Andy Seminick 46. Billy Goodman 47. Tommy Glaviano 48. Eddie Stanky 49. Al Zarilla 50. Monte Irvin 51. Eddie Robinson 52a. Tommy Holmes (Boston in bio) 52b. Tommy Holmes (Hartford in bio)