Today’s Card of the Day comes from the 1952 set, and it features Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Monty Basgall, who played for the club during the 1948-49 and 1951 seasons. Today’s Pirates daily history article has six former players who were born on February 8th, but they offer almost no options for a Card of the Day article. This 1952 Topps card is the only option for Basgall, so he won’t be a regular in this series. It also helps explain why I waited almost three full years for his first (and possibly only) appearance before featuring a card from one of the most popular sets of all-time. Here’s a look at card #12 from that set, which is a bit different than your normal 1952 Topps card.
Here’s the front of the card:
The 1952 Topps set is iconic and highly collectible. The Mickey Mantle card is the set has gone through the roof with prices. It’s the first major set from Topps. Basgall was one of the early cards released, so I’m sure tons of collectors were getting this card in their first pack of Topps cards. The set featured solid artwork, though they didn’t always get the colors correct. The Pirates switched to black and gold in 1948, but many cards in the set show the blue color they wore before 1948.
I love that these cards show that great old Pirates logo, though I’ll note that the quality control for the logo was poor at best. You put five 1952 Pirates cards side-by-side and you can get five slightly different looks for the logo, especially with the coloring. The facsimile player autograph is a nice touch here, especially when you see examples like this one, where he’s known as Monty, but you find out his actual name is Romanus. I wish modern players would check out these cards so they see what autographs actually look like when written by adults. I’d say about 98.6% of modern players have autographs that are impossible to read.
Here’s the back of the card:
As I mentioned up top, this isn’t your typical 1952 Topps card. A large majority of the backs of 1952 Topps cards have red print on the card for the top section with the player’s name, the star next to the bio info, the line that says “MAJOR LEAGUE BATTING RECORD FIELDING RECORD” and the Topps Baseball/stars at the bottom.
Out of the 407 cards in the set, 327 only have the red backs available. The first 80 cards have backs that can be found with the all black writing on the gray background, but even those cards are easier to find with the red backs. So Basgall can be found with both backs, and you might see similar amounts of red vs black backs for sale, but people usually list harder to find cards at a higher rate due to the desirability.
The first line of the bio is a bit ominous for his career. What you see there are his complete big league stats. He was out of the majors by the end of the 1951 season.
If you’re interested in picking up a Basgall card, I’d suggest not worrying about the back color. I personally find the red backs more appealing, so I wouldn’t pay extra for a black back. The conditions of these cards are usually in the lower/middle grades. Plenty of VG examples out there. A PSA 5 is the highest graded one available, and that is going for $350. A PSA 4 is $215+ tax/delivery, while all of the others are $100 or less. The cheapest one in decent shape is $14, but there are a few lower for you budget collectors. Most of the listed ones are in the $20-$35 range.