Card of the Day: 1957 Topps Frank Thomas

Pittsburgh Pirates great Frank Thomas passed away recently at the age of 93. He was a four-time All-Star with the team, who once ranked second to Ralph Kiner on the team’s all-time home run list. The Pirates recently started their own Hall of Fame, one that Thomas will no doubt be a part of in the future. As a tribute to the great slugger, I got him into the first open spot on the Card of the Day calendar.

Thomas has appeared in this series twice already. His first appearance showed off his 1955 Bowman card. That’s a favorite set of mine from Bowman during their first stint in the card business. His second appearance featured his 1998 Upper Deck Retro card, which is a great offering that had him pictured from an Old Timer’s game held at the 1994 All-Star game. I highly recommend checking that card out. Today’s article looks at his 1957 Topps card. He is #140 in the set.

Here’s the front of the card:

My choice for today you see above was not my first choice, but I figured since Thomas is known as a slugger, I’ll include a card that has him in a hitting pose. I was going to use the 1956 Topps card at first, but the background scene in there has him sliding into second base. I’ll get to that card at some point, possibly on his next birthday.

I like the design of the 1956 set a lot better than the 1957, but there’s a big difference between the two sets that makes this better for today. Topps went with real photos in 1957, instead of artwork. Not only are you seeing him in a batting pose, but it’s an actual photo. As you can see, the design for this set is rather simple. Name/team/position written right onto the photo, with a color switch to shake things up a little. Nothing else except the white border.

Here’s the back of the card:

I love the setups of the 1957 backs, starting with the baseball around the card number. You get a nice bio section, a cartoon featuring Generic Gray Topps Man, and then nine categories of batting records. The earlier Topps cards included fielding stats. It’s good coloring too.

The bio section has a nice note about him playing every game for the Pirates. If you know you’re baseball history, you’ll see that he played 157 games in a 154-game series. Teams used to replay tie games back then, but the stats from the tie games still counted. Jimmy Barrett from the 1904 Detroit Tigers played 162 games during a 154-game schedule, which gave him the single-season games played record for 57 years, until the first year of the 162-game schedule saw two plays get into 163 games. Maury Wills then played 165 games in 1962, and that record has stood ever since.

I mentioned up top that Thomas was second in homers for the Pirates for quite some time. When this card came out, he ranked third. Paul Waner had 109 homers. Forbes Field was intentionally built big because owner Barney Dreyfuss didn’t like cheap homers, so those early team home run totals are low. The brought the outfield walls in for Kiner, but that was really just making the stadium more of a normal distance. It was still deep to center. You’ll notice the Pirates have quite a few triples titles over the years.

If you’re interested in picking up this card, they can be had for as low as $5 delivered, though you probably want to go a few bucks higher for a better condition. There’s a PSA 8 for $44 or a PSA 7 for $33 delivered (other examples in the same grades cost more). There are quite a few signed cards to choose from, with a handful of them under $20. He had a nice autograph that you can easily read.