Card of the Day: 1953 Topps Vic Janowicz

Today’s Card of the Day selection comes from the 1953 Topps set. The featured player is Vic Janowicz, who appeared on a card in that set before his first game of pro ball. Outside of this website, he is better known for his football career. He won the Heisman award in 1950 at Ohio State. He also played two seasons with the Washington Redskins. We know him here for the fact that he played two seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates, catching his first year, then moving to third base for 1954.

Janowicz has appeared in this series twice before. The first time was in February of 2021, when I tied in his appearance with the big football game going on that day. I watch the Puppy Bowl every year, so I figured what better day to feature a Heisman winner in a baseball card article. His second appearance was exactly a year ago today. That time I included the 1955 Bowman cards from both their baseball and their football sets. The timing of his switch from baseball to football led to him being included in both sports. Janowicz was born 93 years ago today. To celebrate the two-sport star, we take a look at his 1953 Topps card, which is #222 in the set.

Here’s the front of the card:

I’m a big fan of the 1953 Topps set, which is one of the reasons that I collect the current Topps Living set…well, at least the Pirates players in the set. That set uses the same design you see here, including artwork for the player photos. It would be nice if the Living Set used that Pirates logo for the players, but they use the boring (I literally just yawned thinking about it) current logo for active players. I at least like that the older players in the Living Set (Wagner, Kiner, etc) don’t get saddled with the current logo. This logo from the 1953 era needs to be brought back. How can you go from something like that, to eventually get to the letter P, and think that’s a good idea?

Unless you collect these cards, it’s often a surprise to see that they are bigger than the current standard size card. It’s not a big difference, but it’s noticeable in hand if you collect cards. The 1953 cards measure 2-5/8″ by 3-3/4”, while the standard size you are used to now is 2-1/2″ by 3-1/2”.

Here’s the back of the card:

As you can see on this card, Janowicz had zero pro stats to share. Nothing for the 1953 season, nothing for his lifetime stats. He played for the 1953-54 Pirates, then moved on to football, so the Pirates were his only team in pro baseball. His entire pro career was 83 games, and many of those came off of the bench.

The cartoon here put Generic Gray Topps Man in the secondary role, as he’s replaced with a trained bear, who knows the balk rule apparently. The mini bio section is very interesting because of what we know about Janowicz already from this article. I don’t know, maybe it would make sense to mention that he would the Heisman trophy? I’m no football historian, so I thought maybe the Heisman was a newer award around that time, so it wasn’t a big deal at first, but by 1953, it was around for 18 years/19 seasons.

The baseball stat for college is something I mentioned in today’s history article. While it seems like he barely played baseball, he had some added experience playing in the service before joining the Pirates.

If you’re interested in this card, you don’t have a ton of choices. That’s because just as many copies have sold in the last three months as ones that have been listed during that time. You’ll want to spend at least $15, and even that is low end for condition. I’d say be closer to the $25-$30 range, unless you want graded copies. There have been two sold PSA 6 copies recently. One went for $170, the other for $155. A PSA 5 sold for $72, so you might want to start there if you card budget isn’t high. He passed away one day after his 66th birthday in 1996, so he hasn’t signed recently obviously, but they are still out there and not terribly expensive. It’s actually easier to find his 1993 Topps Archives card signed, which is a reprint on the 40th anniversary of the 1953 set. Those go for around $60-$70, which the original will be a little higher.