Celebrating the Reverse – Card Backs With Jim McLauchlin

So many of us overlook card backs in this day of hard plastic card encapsulation and grading, so I was super happy to have run across an article dedicated to them while perusing the September 1991 issue of Baseball Cards Magazine.

Baseball Cards Magazine – September 1991

Jim McLauchlin penned an article titled “Card Backs” in which he celebrated the reverse side of cards kicking it off starting that he likes card backs more than he lies card fronts! Here are the first two pages of the article.

Card Backs – Jim McLauchlin

He talks about the plethora of data that have been including on them, chats about some growing pains in card back design in our hobby’s history, before digging into the real story, the specific card backs highlights over the past 50 years of sports cards that he jokingly called “the first quasi annual Sy Berger Awards for Card Back Excellence (or Lack Thereof).”

I thought the Set Awards were so well researched and accurate that they deserved to be shared with folks who don’t have junk-wax era card magazine back issues, so I’ll share a highlight card from many of the categories before sharing the article in total below.

Best Cartoons: 1977-78 Topps Basketball

He noted their incredible variety.

1977 Topps Swen Nater

I’ll also note that a lot of original card cartoon art was sold in The Topps Auction by Guernsey’s back in 1989.

Topps Basketball Cartoons – The Topps Auction 1989

Best Cartoon Theme: 1974 Topps Football

Leisure-time activities.

1974 Topps Ken Stabler

Best Back Photography

Anything by Upper Deck

1991 Upper Deck Jose Lind

Best Narratives

1955 Bowman Baseball

1955 Bowman Vern Law

Best Non-Use of the Word “Defenseman”

1990-91 Pro Set Hockey for using terms like rugged blue liners, crafty blue liners, veteran blue liners, and bruising blue liners.

Best Bios

1961 Fleer Football

1961 Fleer Gene Lipscomb

Word Card Back Idea


Worst Use of Stats


Best Quote

1990 Score Football Johnny Johnson

1990 Score Johnny Johnson

Best Trivia

1975 Topps Carlton Fisk

1975 Topps Carlton Fisk

Best Prophecy

1958 Topps Sandy Koufax

1958 Topps Sandy Koufax

Best Cartoon

1971 Topps Football Spider Lockhart

1971 Topps Spider Lockhart

Best Overused Bio Material

He challenged readers to find a Joe Nuxhall card that didn’t say he was the youngest palyer in the majors.

Best Obscure Information

1990 Pro Set Football Chris Singleton

1990 Pro Set Chris Singleton

Worst Use of Stats

1971 Topps Football Charlie Krueger

1971 Topps CHarlie Krueger

Best Hobby

1958 Topps Stan Lopata

1958 Topps Stan Lopata

Best Expansion of Standard Height, Weight

1963 Topps Dick Radatz

1963 Topps Dick Radatz

Best Culinary Card

1974-75 Topps Basketball Louis Dampier

1974 Topps Louie Dampier

Best We’ll Find Something Nice To Say About This Spud If It Kills Us

1965 Topps Mike De La Hoz

1965 Topps Mike De La Hoz

Greatest Card Back of Them All

1951 Bowman Leo Nomellini

1951 Bowman Leo Nomellini

Final Pages of the Article

Card Backs – Jim McLauchlin
Card Backs – Jim McLauchlin

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this article about card backs, I’ve covered a few related topics you might be interested in.

Happy collecting, and don’t forget to check out The Post War Cards Newsletter for more!

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