Heritage Auctions is pleased to offer the Number Five All-Time Finest assembly of the 1952 Topps Baseball Master Set in this auction, the mountain broken down into each individual step so as to preserve the satisfaction of the climb. This is the most treacherous route to the top, with the red and black-backed variations that can narrow the path to completion to a hair’s breadth. Bidding is now live at HA.com/sports.
The autumn of 1951 was a painful one for the residents of Brooklyn. On August 10th, their beloved Bums led the New York Giants by a gaping twelve and a half game margin, mirroring the dominance of the New York Yankees in the American League. A fourth edition of the Fall Classic rivalry seemed certain. “Unless [the Dodgers] completely fold in their last fifty games,” wrote an Associated Press reporter, “they’re in.”
This prophecy, as reasonable as it appeared, was ultimately proven incorrect.
The Dodgers did not fold, going twenty-seven and twenty-three to close out the final fifty games of the season, an entirely respectable .540 winning percentage. But the Giants would lose only eight of their final forty-five games to pull even with their cross-river rivals, and set the stage for the most famous home run in Major League history, Bobby Thomson’s fatal “Shot Heard ’round the World.”
As this devastating drama cast a pall over the borough, Woody Gelman and Sy Berger hunched over the kitchen table of Berger’s Alabama Avenue apartment just a few miles from Ebbets Field, hard at work at a project that would prove to be the most celebrated post-war trading card set ever issued-1952 Topps Baseball.
The points of relevance are nearly too numerous to recount. It was the auspicious debut of the hobby’s most celebrated brand, the first issue to feature player stats, height/weight, birthdate, batting and throwing stance-all of the common hallmarks of the industry for decades to come. Both in card number and size, the set dwarfed that of the entrenched Bowman issue, beginning an arms race that would ultimately establish Topps as the last man standing. But Topps’ youthful exuberance came at a financial price, as production and distribution stumbles significantly limited availability of the high numbers, famously resulting in a large percentage being doomed to burial at sea. This self-inflicted rarity only stokes competitive fires today.
Now the 1952 Topps Baseball issue stands as one of the hobby’s “Big Three,” joining the 1909-11 T206 and 1933 Goudey sets as the most celebrated achievements in trading card history. Like Everest, completion may not be the very greatest challenge that exists for those intrepid few aspiring to greatness, but it does provide the most glorious view from the summit.
Bidding is now live at HA.com/sports.