Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Topps 1954...The Coaches Set

Maybe you know the Topps '54 set because of some big name rookie cards, guys like Aaron, Kaline, and

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

I knew that the set included a Cubs coach,

the unhappy looking Ray Blades.  For some reason though, I never realized that there was a second coach,

Bob Scheffing.  I've had the card for four years, but it never sunk in that Scheffing was listed as a coach.  I just assumed he was a catcher.  The Cubs manager, Phil Cavarretta,

was one of two skippers that got a card.

I decided to see how many other coaches were in the set, and I was surprised to see that there were a total of 20 coach cards out of the 250 cards.  That seems like a really high number, and you can also add to that two manager cards for a total of 22 non-players.

As far as I can tell, 1954 was the only season that saw so many coaches got their own cards.  There were a couple more coaches cards in the '55 set, and in the mid-'70s they shared a card with the manager.  If I had to come up with a reason for so many cards of non-active players (22/250 = 9%....in today's set of 660 cards, that would mean 59 coaches), my guess would be the Topps / Bowman war.  As each side signed players, that meant the other guy had less to work with.  To fill the set, Topps used coaches.  

I can just hear kids in 1954 ripping open their packs...."I got a Ted Williams....I got Whitey Ford...I got Warren Spahn....Rats, I got Ray Blades"  I bet there were a lot of disappointed kids!  The coaches virtually disappeared the next year.

Early in the set, the coach/managers were randomly scattered:
#38, 59, 76, 86, 133, 143, 147, 176.

But in the back end, there was a definite pattern....two out of ten of the last 67 cards were coaches:
#183, 187, 193, 197, 203, 207, 213, 217, 223, 227, 233, 237, 243, 247

The Red Sox were the winners with 3 coaches, while the Cubs and the Cardinals had two coaches and their manager.

Teams with two coaches were the Phillies, Orioles, Tigers, A's and Senators.

One coach teams were the Dodgers, Pirates, and Braves.

Five teams had no coach card...Reds, Giants, White Sox, Indians, and Yankees.

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