Card of the Day: 1960 Topps Roman Mejias

Today is a busy day for birth dates of former Pittsburgh Pirates players. Our daily history article today has updated/extended bios for nine former players. One of the updates included something I’ve never done for a player before. That update led to our featured player today, who is not among the nine players born on February 7th.

While updating the bio of Felipe Montemayor, I saw at the very end that I included his age, and noted that he was the third oldest living Pirates player. Today’s update notes that he’s celebrating his 95th birthday today, and he is the fourth oldest former Pirates player. I didn’t make a mistake here. He went from third to fourth oldest. I also didn’t make a mistake back then when I updated his bio last year. Records showed that he was the third oldest Pirates player behind Bobby Shantz and Bob Oldis. I’ve never moved players back on the oldest former Pirates list before.

Today’s Card of the Day is a 1960 Topps card that features Roman Mejias, who played for the Pirates during the 1955 and 1957-61 seasons. He is now recognized as the oldest former Pirates player, and it’s a quite new revelation. I couldn’t figure out who to properly credit for it, but someone uncovered the fact that he was actually born in 1925, not 1930. That’s a really interesting discovery, especially once you see the back of this card. Since today is all about new things, I’m starting with the back scan first today. Here’s card #2 from the 1960 Topps set, featuring Roman Mejias.

Here’s the back of the card:

Mejias was born in 1925, but he’s been recognized as being born in 1930 for as long as I can remember. However, look at what we have here. His birth year is listed as being 1932! Players lying about their age was quite common back in the day. They were usually older players who wanted to appear younger, making them a better looking prospect. There are also cases of players lying about their age by adding 1-2 years so they would be given a shot to sign at an early age.

Mejias appears to be an extreme example. His 1954 minor league stats show him putting up huge numbers at 21 years old according to this 1932 birth date. That got him a push to the majors. If it was known that he was 28 for most of that season, he’s probably playing at a higher level (if he was even signed in the first place), and he doesn’t put up those huge numbers.

An interesting side note is that Mejias has appeared in our Card of the Day series once before, on what I thought was his 90th birthday.

Here’s the front of the card:

I’m a fan of the 1960 set, but it falls a clear third for me among the three sets during that time period that used the horizontal layout. It’s tough for any set to compete with the 1956 set, but that 1955 set definitely ranks between the 1956 and 1960 on my top all-time set designs. One thing I really like here is that big Pirates logo from this era. The team needs to bring back something like that for their logo. The current one puts me to sleep.

Since those photos above were probably taken early in 1959, this is a 33-year-old Mejias, trying to pass himself off as a 26-year-old. That left side photo sure is an odd pose, but it’s cool to see the players in full uniforms (even if they are all black & white photos).

Would you like to buy a card of the oldest living former Pirates player? This one can get a bit pricey in the high grade, with some cards going for over $100. If I was in the market for one, my choice would be $20 delivered for a PSA 5. That’s cheaper than some cards that are graded lower, as well as some ungraded cards that are listed in VG/EX condition, which would be a PSA 4 if graded. There are about 70 auctions for this card, and only about 8-10 lower grade copies are going for $10 or less delivered. There’s an autographed copy, with a really nice signature for $30, with a best offer option.