In today's Old School Design column, I wanted to take a look back at some of my favorite classic baseball cards. With baseball season approaching, I always find myself pulling out the old box of cards from my childhood and remembering all the good feelings that surround them. I remember the feeling of heading to the local convenience store to find the latest wax packs and opening them as fast as I could. The hard bubble gum was great and you couldn't wait to start trading with your friends. Nothing brings back great childhood memories like old baseball cards. These cards are just a few examples that bring back special memories and have some element of "design cool" that make them classics.
One of my all-time favorite cards is the 1989 Upper Deck Nolan Ryan. As a huge Astros fan, I was also a fan of Nolan Ryan. This card really set a new standard in baseball card design. I remember how in-demand this card was due to the unique triple-exposed image of Ryan delivering the pitch. That Upper Deck set was a true thing of design beauty and really launched the card industry into what it is today from a design standpoint. This card is a thing of beauty and one of my all-time favorites.
Another card from the same era that was one of my favorites was this 1990 Bo Jackson card from Score. Bo Jackson was a true sports phenomenon in the early 1990's, playing both football for the Raiders and baseball for the Royals. Bo was everywhere, in commercials, on posters, t-shirts and cards. This card had a classic image of Bo in his shoulder pads, holding his bat and epitomizes the frenzy that was Bo Jackson back then. The back of the card simply had the word BO in black and royal. We will never know how truly great Bo Jackson could have been, but his impact back then was enormous.
Next on my list is this 1979 Kellogg's 3-D Super Stars Jim Palmer. As a kid in the 1970's there was no greater thrill than pulling one of these gems out of your morning cereal box. As soon as you could open that new box, you dug through the cereal to unearth the hidden baseball treasure inside. I remember finding this Jim Palmer card and instantly adopted him as my favorite player of the era. I loved the laughing Oriole bird on the cap and began to follow Plamer's career, all because of a card I got in my cereal. These cards were also great because of the 3-D lenticular designs on them. In the 1970's this was pretty cool technology and a great twist on card collecting.
Next on my list is the 1971 Topps Pete Rose card. The 1971 Topps set was always one of my favorites. The solid black borders and simple typestyle made these cards simple but classic. Because of the black border, these cards were nearly impossible to keep in mint condition.One of my favorites from that year was this card of Reds outfielder Pete Rose. Growing up in the Cincinnati area during the reign of the Big Red Machine was great. This card captures the essence of Charlie Hustle. Pete was a working man's hero in CIncinnati and this classic card shows that classic determined Pete Rose look. I still remember being at a flea market in the 1970's with my grandmother when I acquired this great card and many other 1971 Topps classics.
The last in my list today is also a card that was a treasure to any Cincinnati kid. That card was a 1959 Topps Joe Nuxhall. Though most remember Joe as the radio voice of the CIncinnati Reds, he was the youngest player to ever play in a Major League game and a long-time player for the Reds. Every kid in Cincinnati treasured having a classic Nuxhall card in their collection. This card was new way before my time, but one I tried hard to acquire in my collecting days. Like the 1971 Pete Rose, these 1959 Topps cards had a simple design with the player featured in a simple circle. This card depicts Nuxhall in a classic pitching pose and features a truly great old school Redlegs mascot on the bottom corner. The voice of Joe Nuxhall was the true symbol of spring and summer to anyone who grew up in Cincinnati.
Classic baseball cards bring back so many childhood memories of a love of Major League Baseball. They bring back the emotions of watching the Game of the Week and hearing the voice of Mel Allen telling us about This Week in Baseball. They are like little time machines you can hold in your hand that tell the story of a special childhood baseball memory. These cards were just a few of my favorites and I hope they brought back some memories and got you in the spirit for the new season to begin.