Card of the Day: 1955 Topps Double Headers Jack Shepard

Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day comes from a set I’ve been trying to get here for quite some time. Lack of suitable scans prevented it before. We got them today though, as we take our first look at the 1955 Topps Double Headers set. This is a set that uses a throwback design, which I will explain below.

We previously looked at the 1979 TCMA card of Jack Shepard. That’s a set I recommend checking out due to the great pictures of older players. This is his second appearance in this series. We can go back to him one more time for his final card from the 1955 Topps set. Shepard had a fascinating career path, in that he went right to the majors from college, then to the minors for a partial season, before rejoining Pittsburgh. He stayed for three full seasons, then just quit baseball at 25 years old in his prime. That was bad for the Pirates at the time, but his departure happened just as they were building towards their 1960 title. He helped them get through some lean years.

Here’s the front of the card:

If you collect the very old stuff when it comes to baseball cards, then this set will look familiar. You probably know this set anyway if you really do go for the older cards, but for those who don’t, this is modeled after the 1911 T201 set. That set is called the Mecca Double Folders set. We last looked at a card from that set almost one year ago today.

The Mecca in that name was the brand of Tobacco being advertised. Back then there weren’t companies releasing their own cards, rather companies that had cards printed with advertisements to help sell their products. It was as much about the product as the card itself. These 1955 Double Headers cards were produced by Topps as a side set to their regular set. It’s not like a lot of sets were being produced back then, so adding one more smaller set wasn’t going to flood the market. There were plenty of nickels just waiting to be spent by kids on cards back then.

As you can see, these cards have some lower quality artwork, especially compared to the set from 44 years earlier, though even that one wasn’t great work. These have more of a comic strip feel to them. There had to be a little generic in there, as the picture you see on front here could change with one bend of the card…

Here’s the back of the card:

That picture that you see on the front has a crease across the middle that is easier to see here. That’s fine for the condition of these cards because they were meant to be creased. When you look at the upside down photo here, which depicts Chicago Cubs manager Stan Hack (a very underrated player), you might be able to picture the bottom (or top as you look at it now) matching up to the bottom scene of Shepard on front. It’s a bit of a strange idea, where Shepard gets a full card, while Hack gets half of a card.

The Mecca cards had a few stats for each player, but no bios. The rest of their back was an ad for the cigarettes. Since Topps was only pushing their own sales, they had extra room. One interesting thing between the two sets is that Topps actually called these Double Headers, while the original set was given that Double Folders name years later by collectors looking to identify them to each other.

One last note on the back. It appears to be miscut, as you can see part of a scene at the bottom. However, I looked through a bunch of scans and all of them had that partial scene. It would be an odd coincidence if the 6-8 scans I looked at all just happened to be miscut too.

If you’re interested in this card, there are currently three on Ebay right now. It’s not an easy card to find, but it’s also far from a popular set, especially compared to the great 1955 Topps regular set. This card can be had for $40, $66 or $142 off of Ebay. The scans you see above are from the middle price, which is also the middle grade of the three. There have actually been seven that have sold in the last three months, with all of them going for less than the $40 price you would have to pay to get one, but most looked nicer than that card. So keep that in mind if you want to buy one.