Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wood vs. Wood: #15

 Here's one more new series, comparing to the two great wood sets, 1962 and 1987. For any card # where I have cards from both sets (and both cards are base cards, not a subset), I'll put the two cards side-by-side and decide which one is better. Let me know in the comments which ones you like, and for the next post I'll announce which one is better.

'62 has a darker shade of wood, and a simple rectangular design, with the flourish of the Kodak paper peeling away, revealing the player's name, team name and position. '87 has lighter wood, a slightly more angular photo space, a team logo instead of the name, and the Topps logo instead of a position. As a kid I was not a fan of angular designs, and I like to have the position on the front. I know some people really prefer a team logo over the name but it's never been a big deal to me. So for overall design I'd go with '62.

In my comparisons I am not going to judge the quality of the player, as I have very few star cards in the '62 set (in fact, I don't own any base cards of Hall of Famers in this set).

Here's the first number where I have both cards, #15.

Which card is better? As a ten-year-old in '87, I loved a card like Washington's. Of course his being a Yankee helped, but it's a nice action shot where you see the whole player, nice follow-through in the swing. He's in his home uniform so you know it's Yankee Stadium. (For those who ask me how I can so easily tell the stadium, it's just something I picked up from staring at my cards for hours when I was a kid). I had just gotten into baseball in 1986, Washington's first year with the Yankees. For older collectors, this would have been their first chance to have a card with the veteran outfielder in a Yankees uniform.

What would a ten-year-old in 1962 have thought of the Dick Donovan card? Supposedly in that time, when many if not most games were not on TV, and those that were would have been fuzzy black and white images, seeing the player's face was still somewhat of a novelty. Still, it's hard to imagine young kids getting that excited over just a face. With no hat and a jacket under his jersey, he barely looks like a ballplayer. Donovan had been a Senator in 1961, traded to Cleveland in October for Jimmy Piersall. That is why Topps went with the generic-looking photo. Largely forgotten today, he was actually the reigning AL ERA champion at the time of the trade. So seeing him with the updated team name would have been nice in an era when kids often used their cards to keep track of what team a player was on, often scribbling out the old team and writing in the new one after a transaction.

Donovan won 122 major league games, including 16 in 1957, when he was runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award. Washington hit 164 major league home runs, including the 10,000th in Yankees history. Both men died of cancer in their 60s; Donovan in 1997, Washington in 2020.

I would have to pick the dynamic photo on the '87 card over the hatless portrait on the '62. Let me know in the comments which one you would pick!


  1. Put the darkness of the 62' on the 87' and the 87' wins.

  2. I think the ideal mashup (for me at least) would be the action shot of Washington on the '62 design, but with the lighter wood color of the '87 set!

  3. Yeah, gotta go with the '87 here.