Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baseball Card Mystery: 1987 Topps Dave Bergman

Possibly one of the greatest sports card mystery’s of all time. If you look at the front of this card, there appears to be nothing unusual about it. And there isn’t. If  you look at the back of the card you can see Bergman’s lifetime statistics. It is the statistics and the type of player that Bergman was that is part of the mystery. In 1986, Bergman hit 1 home run and had 9 Rbi’s. He hit .231 batting average. Up to this point into his career (and after) he was a decent backup outfielder/infielder/pinchhitter.

One part mystery about this card come is addressed above, the other part deals with Topps’s numbering system of baseball cards. Beginning in approximately 1959 and continuing until 1994 (and eventually later), Topps assigned players who were consider very good or a superstar a number that ended in 0 (10, 20, 140). For players that were really really good, the got double 00 or they were assigned the numbers 100, 200, 300, etc… card number in the set.

For example in 1967, the players that occupied those numbers in the Topps set were Frank Robinson (100), Willie Mays (200), Jim Kaat (300), Roberto Clemente (400), Juan Marichal (500) and Brooks Robinson (600). You have 5 Hall of Famers hitters and one really good pitcher who(Kaat) won 25 games in 1966. 

In 1977, you had Joe Morgan (100), Frank Tanana (200), Jerry Koosman (300), Steve Garvey (400), Dave Kingman (500), and Jim Palmer (600). Here you have 2 Hall of Famers and a couple of big time hitters and big time pitchers. What you don’t have is a guy who hit one home run and drove in nine runs.

In 1987, Dave Bergman got card number 700 in the Topps set.

In 1978, Topps started to issue sets that went more than 700 cards. Here is the list of players that got card number 700. Johnny Bench (1978), Reggie Jackson (1979), Rod Carew (1980), George Brett (1981), George Foster (1982), Keith Hernandez (1983), Mike Schmidt (1984), Eddie Murray (1985), Reggie Jackson (1986) and the years after Bergman – George Brett (1988), Don Mattingly (1989) and Kirby Puckett (1990).  Dave Bergman was the only Dave Bergman in that bunch.

Not all of those number (100, 200, 300 etc….) were assigned to Superstar players over the years because a few landed in subsets that Topps spliced into the sets.

For example, cards 200 in the 1970 and 1971 set were part of the Championship Series subset. In 1975 card 200 was part of the Topps MVP subset that featured the 1962 MVP’s Mantle and Willis (not shabby). In 1985, Odibbe McDowell got card 400 as part of the Olympic Team Subset.

In the Topps 1995 set, (a year after the baseball strike), Topps ended its practice of giving the card numbers to superstar players as Henry Rodriguez got number 300, and John Hudek got number 400 and Yorkis Perez got number 500. In the next few years a lot of superstars occupied those prime number (100, 200, 300 etc…) but some players like Damien Moss (1997-#200), Russ Johnson (2001-#600) and Andy Marte (2003-#300) snuck in there. However, at least from 2007 to 2009 it appears all very good players or superstars occupied those prime number.

So again, it is a mystery why Dave Bergman was assigned card 700 in the 1987 Topps set.   Did he know someone at Topps or did someone at Topps like him. Or was it just a big slipup.

No comments:

Post a Comment