Monday, January 26, 2015

'59 Topps set build #11/572 Cincinnati Red Legs team card

I felt like doing something a little bit different with this '59 Topps post, so instead of going in order after the Eddie Miksis card, I jumped ahead and grabbed my first team card to go over.

Card #111:  Cincinnati Red Legs (checklist 89-176) 

I had never really thought about it in the past when I looked at team cards, but there's an awful lot of players in this photo.  So many that I decided to count them.   There's 37 players in uniform, with maybe a handful of them having their faces defaced over time. 

There is only one Hall of Famer on the '59 squad, Frank Robinson.   I didn't see uniform #20 on any of the players, so I'm going to guess and say that he is 3rd from the left in the 2nd row from the top, standing to the left of Brooks Lawrence (#46).

Overall record:  74-80, 5th place in the NL, 13 games behind the division winning Dodgers.

Team Leaders:  

  • Hits: Vada Pinson 205.   Pinson also led the team in runs, doubles and ABs (all 3 of those categories he led the NL), as well as batting average (.316) and steals (21).   Team MVP, no?
  • Homers:  Frank Robinson, 36.  Frank also led the Red Legs in RBI with 125.
  • Wins:  Don Newcombe and Bob Purkey had 13 apiece.   Newcombe also led the team in K's, with 100 and complete games with 17.
  • Saves:  Brooks Lawrence had 10 saves, the number being so low because he also started 14 games.
The Reds fired their manager halfway through the season, as they struggled under first year manager Mayo Smith (35-45).  He was replaced by Fred Hutchinson, who guided them to a 39-35 record the rest of the way, and would guide them to three straight winning seasons between 1961 & 1963, also earning an NL pennant for the Reds in '61.

The back is in very nice shape, no pen marks or lost paper at all.  

I thought it very interesting that the checklist on the back was the 2nd series check list, instead of a team list.   This intrigued me so much that I had to see if I had any other team photos (I do, the Senators) to see if there was a team list on the back (there wasn't, the Senators are the 6th series check list).  The Blue Jays very first All-Star from 1977 also appears on this checklist, see if you can figure out who. (answer below)

There's a few interesting names on this check list...Bill "Moose" Skowron at #90, Felipe Alou #102, Stan Musial at #150 and Sandy Koufax at #163, none of which I own yet. 

I also wondered where the name "Redlegs" came from.  It appears that the "Reds" nickname was removed from the uniform between 1956-1960,  because of the association of the color red with communism.  Redlegs was once a derogatory term used to describe a group of poor white people that live in the Caribbean, mostly coming from Ireland and Scotland (reference here).  The team became the Reds again after the 1958 season, maybe not in time for Topps to change the name on the front of this card?

Ron Fairly (card #125) was the very first Blue Jay to appear in an all-star game in 1977, hitting .307 at the break and finishing the season with a .279 average with a career high in homers with 19.

thanks for reading, Robert                 


  1. I learned something today. I didn't know Redlegs was a derogatory term.

  2. In the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales the family of Josie Wales (Clint Eastwood) is killed by a group of 'Kansas Redlegs' who were renegade anti-slavery 'soldiers' before, during and after the Civil War. They were apparently very bad news.

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  4. Really a sign of just how pathetically superficial some of the tensions were during the Red Scare that someone thought they had to rename a team that had already been around for some 75+ years, as a most American institution, because it would somehow be confused with a communist organization.

  5. That's Vada Pinson (I think) next to Brooks Lawrence. Frank Robinson is over to the right on that row, last player, next to trainer. You can see the '2' of his #20.

    1. Ha ha!! Now I see him, good call Bob.

  6. I think the 1959 Reds cards are some of my favorite in the history of Topps. The Frank Robinson in particular is just a gorgeous card. I should try to track down this team card/checklist at the next vintage show I attend. I'm working towards collecting this team set. Thanks for the post!