The other day a collector emailed me a story he had written for Sports Collectors Digest many years ago about a few cards that are (almost) impossible to find. He thought I’d be particularly interested in the story about the 1954 Bowman #66 Ted Williams card that was yanked from production and replaced with teammate Jimmy Piersall in the set because Topps had Ted Williams under contract. The story of the Ted Williams card is interesting but deserves a separate deep dive. And in terms of finding cards, it isn’t as scarce as once believed.
However, his article referenced a few other cards whose history you might not be aware of that deserve a closer look. So here’s the story of 3 cards that are almost impossible to find.
1974 Topps #100 Joe Namath
Joe Namath isn’t a part of the 1974 football set that Topps released. But that wasn’t the companies intention. Topps planned on Joe Namath being card #100 but couldn’t secure his rights, so his teammate, Delles Howell, was used as card #100 instead. We know this was the Topps Company plan because a few Joe Namath cards made it onto proof sheets, and a few of these blank-backed proof cards are out on the market.
Heritage sold this proof back in September 2004 for $2340. Bob Lemke suspects only two or three more examples exist.
1977 Topps Reggie Jackson in an Orioles Uniform
Mr. October spent the 1976 season as a Baltimore Oriole before signing a five-year contract for $2.96M in November 1976 to join the New York Yankees, who the Reds swept in the 1976 World Series. However, a few proof sheets that Topps produced early in development showed him in an Oriole uniform. And these likely would have been used for the set had he not signed with the Yankees. Instead, Topps airbrushed an image of him in an Athletic’s uniform into a Yankees uniform for the 1977 set.
The pictured SGC graded rarity below sold for $60k in April 2016 at Robert Edward Auctions.
REA said they believe fewer than 10 of these Jackson cards exist.
Keith Olbermann’s blog shared the following image of 3 proof cards from the set, and he suspects only eight copies of the Jackson/Orioles card exist and even fewer of Grote or Thompson.
1958 Topps #145 Ed Bouchee
The second Series Checklist released with the first series of 1958 Topps cards showed card #145 as E. Bouchee.
However, that card never showed up when the second series was released. The second series checklist on the back of the Phillies team card #134 released with the second series cards had no name beside the box where card 145 would be.
Topps purposely pulled Bouchee’s’ card from production because he got arrested in the off-season.
Another Keith Olbermann article deduces that there aren’t any proofs of a 1958 Topps Ed Bouchee around, so this card is impossible to find because Topps never printed it. Some collectors have created some concepts for what it may have looked like, though.
If you happen to have any of these cards, in particular a 1958 Topps Ed Bouchee proof, you’re sitting on a gold mine and what a lot of collectors would consider holly grail cards. These cards have fascinating stories and are a part of our hobby’s extraordinary history. If you have any more information about these or other cool Topps proof cards, shoot me an email or hit me up over on Twitter.