The origin of the definition of Iconic relates to memorial sculptures especially those depicting athletes of Greece. I will try to take that concept and apply it to sports cards.
The question that I ask, if there is one card that would represent a player (the iconic card) what card would that be. I refer to it as the sight test. This is how the test works: If someone mentions a players name what is the first card of that player that pops into your head.
I realize that some of the choices are obvious (as they relate to the players rookie card).
Obviously for Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr, Joe Montana, and Wayne Gretzky and some other players their iconic card would be their rookie card ( 1952 Topps, 1989 Upper Deck, 1981 Topps, 1979-80 Topps etc…). I have not included those players in this series. This series deals with players whose iconic card was not in my opinion not their rookie card.
Also most of the players I will deal with played prior to 1992. After 1992, I don’t think many iconic cards were made because of the mass proliferation of sets. Prior to 1992, at most players had somewhere of 1-5 cards made of them a year. After 1992, that number of sets just exploded.
I believe the 1977 Topps card is Reggie Jackson’s most iconic card more so than his 1969 Topps rookie card. This card captures Jackson first card in a Yankee uniform where he would become one of the most talked about athletes in the late 1970s. It also is a cool photo (yes photoshopped but they got him in a Yankee cap) because he is wearing some cool shades.