Card of the Day: 1963 Topps Ted Savage

I recently found out that 1963 Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Ted Savage passed away at the age of 85 on January 15th. Once I learned of his passing, I put him on the next open date on the schedule for a Card of the Day article. Coincidentally, today’s This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History article is headlined by Don Hoak. It was a 1962 trade that brought Savage to the Pirates, as one of two players they acquired for Hoak.

Savage only had two cards with the Pirates, and he was actually lucky to have that many. His 1962 trade happened early enough after the season ended that Topps was able to include him as a member of the Pirates in the 1963 set. He played just one year in Pittsburgh, ending up on a 1964 Topps card. He spent all of 1964 in the minors, then was traded to the St Louis Cardinals in December of 1964.

Savage’s 1964 Topps is much better than the 1963 one, not even considering the designs of the two sets. That’s because his 1964 card, which we covered here, pictures him in a Pirates hat and jersey. The 1963 card, which is today’s Card of the Day, uses some old school Topps magic, though they got a bit lazy on this one. Here’s a look at card #508 from the 1963 Topps set.

Here’s the front of the card:

I have to give Topps some credit for the main photo here, and all others like it. They were smart enough to get photos of players without caps, which could then be used if a player was traded in the off-season. All they had to do was crop the photo close so it cuts out any potential uniform indicators that he was being shown on a different team.

They took the time to do that, but then that second photo in the circle clearly shows him on the Philadelphia Phillies. Why not just airbrush the hat? Seems simple enough. They obviously did some work to the photo to get a black and white photo on an orange background. It wouldn’t have even been hard to turn the “P” into the better “P” for the Pirates. That photo is why I originally picked the 1964 card for his first Card of the Day article.

While there are no team indicators that say “Pirates” on either of the two photos, the team listed on the front in the bottom right is the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here’s the back of the card:

I noted that the trade to send him to the Pirates happened early enough in the off-season to get him on this card, but what also helped is that this card was released later in the set run. Topps released seven series this year. Savage was right at the start of the seventh series, meaning the 1963 season was already well under way before this card was hitting packs. That series started with card #507.

Savage’s pro career got a bit of a late start due to military service, so he didn’t debut in pro ball until he was already 23 years old. As you can see there, it didn’t take him long to make the majors. What you see in those stats is his complete pro record up to that point. He ended up playing nine seasons in the majors, with his best season coming for the Brewers in 1970, after the Seattle Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers.

If you’re interested in this card, there are plenty of options available on Ebay, mostly of them being mid-grade/ungraded cards. You can get a PSA 8 for $45, though it has a best offer option. There’s a PSA 7 or an SGC 92, both listed at $41. The SGC is a higher grade, but PSA usually gets better return value. However, there’s also a second PSA 7 for $30, sooooo. Since this is a high-number card, which are harder to find, you won’t find any for less than $7, and very few in the $7-$10 range. However, they will sell for less in straight auction listings if you want to wait. An autographed copy recently sold for $20.