Wednesday, March 22, 2017

1958 Topps' Colors, Team by Team

I've been interested the color breakdown of the 1958 set since I started chasing it. I had the same obsession with the '59 set. I decided to tally up the colors and make my observations as I did to the '59. 

The colors used in '58 were repeated exactly in 1959. The same issues I had with the red/orange colors in the '59 set cropped up in this one. For a closer look at the colors and their variations see my previous post. 

BTW...if you are interested in how the 1959 set was color aligned you can click these links to that set's American League cards and National League cards

There are 447 single player cards in the 1958 set. The American League has 224 to the NL's 223. We can assume that the never issued #145 Ed Bouchee card would have evened that number up. 

The chart below breaks out each team and the background colors used. As noted in my previous post I have not done much research into the combinations of background and secondary colors (player name/color bar/team/position). Nor have I looked at the colors by series which might be interesting. Once I'm retired in a year or so I might have a few projects to tackle. 

Take a look at the chart which breaks the set by team. Following it are a few observations I made from the chart itself and some of the notes I took as I was doing my tally.

1958 Topps by Background Color

Note: This chart covers the regular one-player cards. The team cards (all had yellow blocks), multi-player specials (no color background) and All Star (AL:red or NL:blue) are not included. The League Presidents card  (#300) is also not included. It has a yellow background.

Random thoughts and chart observations:
  • I would have bet that the Yankees would have had the most cards. I was surprised to find that they tied for the least amount (26) with the Dodgers, Athletics and Cardinals. 
  • Yellow backgrounds appeared on more cards than any other two colors combined. Only Kansas City lacked one.
  • Yellow was the predominate color for six teams. Red was the most prevalent for four teams. Blue led three teams, orange two and dark green one, the Braves. 
  • Thirteen of the sixteen clubs were dominated by one color i.e. had more of one color than other colors combined. The exceptions are the Tigers (14 red/14 other colors), the Athletics (12 red/14 other), and the Cardinals (13 red/13 other).The Phils (15 blue/13 other) and Pirates (15 yellow/14 other) came close.
  • One team, the Dodgers, had all the cards with a yellow background. They were the only club with all their cards with the same color. All but one of those had the exact same combo: yellow background/red name/black bar/red position/white team name. 
Let's pause and check it of these is not like the others:

Don Zimmer, card #77, had a green bottom bar and a black position designation. His is also one of the cards that comes with the yellow team name lettering variation. If all of the above is related is a question for another day. I wonder why they decided that all the Dodgers would get yellow backgrounds? Why is Zimmer's card different than the others? Is there a correlation between his card having a green bar and it being one of the variations? Sooo many questions.
  • The Reds came very close to having one exclusive color background. Two of them came with black backgrounds while the other 27 were yellow. 
  • Cleveland had 28 yellow cards, the most that any one team had of a single color. They also had 1 each of orange, red and light green. The orange card is the rather valuable Roger Maris rookie. 
  • The Cubs and Red Sox had cards of six different colors. Both those clubs' cards colors followed similar patterns, one predominant color, one color that showed up on a handful of cards and exactly four cards that were the only one of that color among the team's cards. Six other teams had five different colors.
  • The NL shutout the AL in black cards, 6-0. The AL beat the NL in the all-important pink card category, 11-1.
  • The largest disparity between the leagues comes with the orange cards. There are 49 of them among the American Leaguers but only five NL cards sport that color. 
As I was paging through the binder I found the following things interesting;..starting from the first page and moving forward the Yankees were the first club to be seen in three different colors... the Cubs the first to four, five and then six different colors....the Reds' first 20 cards to appear in the set are yellow with Bob Purkey's black #311 finally breaking the pattern..all 27 of the Reds' cards with the yellow backgrounds have red players names, a black bar with red position and white team lettering. There is no 'Don Zimmer' outlier...all of Cleveland's yellow cards have a green bottom bar with black team name and white position.

Fun with cards section.

First yellow card in the set...#1 Ted Williams

First red card #3 Alex Kellner

First blue card #5 Willie Mays

First orange card #9 Hank Bauer

First dark green card #10 Lou Burdette

First light green card #114 Irv Noren... and one card later we get the....

 .....First pink card #115 Jim Bunning, yeah!! (Yeah for pink, not for Jim Bunning)

First light blue card #128 Willie Kirkland

First black card #171 Harry Anderson. It took over one third of the set to get to the first black card.

More fun....

Let's look for a second at Wally Moon in this set.

I scribbled his name in the margin of my tally sheet because I had to ponder the color to mark down. At first glance it appears his card would fall into a new category, 'medium green'. But it also looks darker than Lou Burdette's card which I classified as dark green since that's what nearly all the braves cards are. It's a bit washed out but I had no issues with dark green for Burdette. 

So where does Moon land? Definitely darker than Irv Noren's card. But I'm picking light green. Why?

Because when you place it between the two indisputably dark green Cardinals it just doesn't come close to matching. The black name convinced me that Wally Moon is light green. That he has an impressive uni-brow was never in dispute.

And I'll end with a card that typifies the red/orange conundrum.

Oh, if you were wondering why Don Rudolph's card led off this this.


  1. Outstanding. I didn't have time to read this thoroughly but it's book-marked for when I want to be entertained later.

    It will always bother me that the Dodgers are the only team to have all yellow cards. Yellow, the worst background in the whole set. Grr.

    1. It's really a mystery as to why some teams were overwhelmingly one color, some split and then there are the Dodgers. Would love to go back in time and sit in on the set planning meetings. Why is Zim's card just a bit different? If he had come over from a different team I would figure that was the reason but he'd been a Dodger for years.

  2. Great job on this and the previous post. I really enjoyed your take on colors in your '59 blog and am glad you did it here, too. My only regret is Topps' over-reliance on yellow.

  3. Fantastic stuff... It really does make you wonder about some of the thinking behind the choices, like how yellow is used so often and yet there are no yellow A's at all (which is kind of funny given that it would become a team color within a decade).

    I would never ask this of you, but it makes me wonder how convoluted a chart it would be if one were to also factor in the position and team bars at the bottom.

    One last thing I found strangely fascinating... The exact (if factoring in the non-issued Bouchee) division of cards between leagues. I'm guessing that was to avoid antagonizing either league, which were separate entities, but I wonder which other sets divide exactly like that.