I’ve been a fan of multi-player cards for a while and have written quite a few articles about them too. And, after spending the last week thinking about it, I think multi-player rookie cards make a ton of sense; prospects should share space until they show that they deserve their own card. I think in the vintage post-war market, Topps started taking this approach in the 60s for that reason. It also got more guys in the set without the one-hit-wonder issue. That said, I decided to look into Topps baseball multi-player rookies and found a terrific showcase on the PSA Set Registry; here are ten of my favorites!
1962 Topps #592 Rookie Parade Pitchers
There weren’t any high-demand Hall-of-Fame rookies among the 1962 Topps Rookie Parade cards, but I really dig the floating head designs that were common in the early 60s, and I don’t think pitchers get enough love in the hobby.
1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose
Whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall-of-Fame or not is a hot debate, but you know what the same people do agree on? That his rookie card is significant. The 1963 Topps set also had rookies for other great players like Willie Stargell and Tony Oliva.
1964 Topps #146 Tommy John
The 1964 Topps Rookie Stars cards have a nice, clean, symmetric design that’s appealing to me. While many people may like the Phil Niekro card a bit more from the same set, this Indians card featuring Tommy John and Bob Chance has always been a favorite of mine (I was born in Cleveland).
1965 Topps #74 Red Sox Rookies
Hall-of-Famers Joe Morgan, Steve Carlton, Catfish Hunter, and Tony Perez have multi-player rookie cards in the 1965 Topps set. Still, I’m highlighting the Red Sox Rookie Stars card featuring Rico Petrocelli because it’s popularity has always surprised me a little.
1967 Topps #581 Tom Seaver
The 1967 Topps Baseball high numbers have always been a popular and challenging series to finish. It’s also got two great multi-player rookie cards; one has Rod Carew and the other Tom Seaver. I decided to include the Seaver card with Bill Denehy since I just wrote an article about the Mets.
1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan
Topps made another great Mets Rookie Stars card in 1968. It’s known as Nolan Ryan’s rookie card, but Jerry Koosman also had quite a successful career.
1971 Topps #709 Baker/Baylor
While neither Dusty Baker nor Don Baylor are Hall-of-Famers (yet), they both had very successful careers as players AND coaches. Couple those two players on the same card in the condition sensitive 1971 set, and you get one of my favorite multi-player rookie cards.
1975 Topps #620 Gary Carter
The 1975 Topps Baseball set is one of the most popular in the post-war baseball hobby, and it has a few really attractive multi-player rookie cards. This one, featuring Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter, has fantastic eye appeal.
1978 Topps #707 Molitor/Trammell
The 1978 Topps Baseball Rookie Shortstops card is one of the hobby’s most famous multi-player rookie cards because it features two Hall-of-Famers, Paul Molitor and Alan Trammell.
1982 Topps #21 Cal Ripken Jr
If you followed the link to PSA’s site in the introduction, you saw hundreds of multi-player vintage Topps Baseball rookie cards. Maybe modern card manufacturers could learn a thing or two from the past. It’s almost impossible for them to print cards for every player in MLB when teams often play 40-50 players through the season (upwards of 1500 players across the league annually). That difficulty is magnified when you consider that many prospects get cards who haven’t made a Major League roster yet. This isn’t a bad thing, just an observation and a difficulty in the hobby I hear from folks collecting modern sets. Anyway, what’s your favorite vintage multi-player rookie card? Let me know in the comments, and happy collecting!
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