The Golden Age of Baseball Cards™

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Vintage Baseball Card Blog

Old Baseball Cards of Old-looking Players

June 1, 2008

by William Szczepanek

57topps117Joe AdcockIn the Baseball Card Blog article from April 9, 2006, Ben Henry discussed the Topps Heritage sets. At one point he describes the 1957 card of Joe Adcock as that of someone who looks older than he really is. Adcock was 30 years old in the picture, but Ben felt that he looked much older, like from the barnstorming days. Anyone who remembers Adcock will agree that Ben is pretty close to being right about his comparisons, though I don’t really think Adcock looked old, he just looked weathered and tough.

Adcock’s first season with the Braves was capped by a mammoth home run into the center field bleachers at the Polo Grounds in 1953, a feat that had never been done before and only by Hank Aaron and Lou Brock since. But Joe's biggest blast went over the double-decked left-field stands at Ebbets Field.

Joe Adcock was beaned so severely by the Dodgers' Clem Labine in 1954 that he was unconscious for 15 minutes. Adcock said the helmet might have saved him from a severe injury, and the next day the Brooklyn Dodgers ordered all players in their organization to begin wearing helmets.

56topps293Stu MillerNow this card of Stu Miller from 1956 looks like he was playing in the dustbowl. He looks like a twenty year old playing in the 1930’s.

But I digress. I really wanted to talk about baseball cards of players who look older than they really are. As a youngster I often saw players who looked older, but I thought that was because I was young. Now, I look back at a time when I am twice the age these players actually were and I still think they look older than I do.

The data below is show in order of increasing difference in Perceived Age vs. Actual Age from my personal perspective. I’m sure many will disagree with my observations, particularly these player’s mothers. In certain cases the players actually look much younger on cards from subsequent years, so in effect I am commenting on the presentation, not the actual player.

I have added a card of Casey Stengel at the end since he always looked old to me during his entire time as a manager, but to his credit, he actually was old and was still doing a great job.

It is a little strange because I haven’t noticed the same issue with cards produced in the 1960’s and later. It’s all probably just me and my perspective, but I wonder how many others have experienced the same thing.

Player Year of the Card Actual Age Perceived Age Difference
  Marv Grissom 1959 41 46 5
  Murry Dickson 1957 40 45 5
  Red Schoendienst 1956 33 42 11
  Elmer Singleton 1957 39 47 12
  Yogi Berra 1955 30 44 14
  Howie Pollet 1954 33 48 14
  Wally Westlake 1955 34 49 15
  Sam Jones 1956 30 45 15
  Duke Snider 1959 32 48 16
  Connie Johnson 1959 36 54 18
  Enos Slaughter 1957 41 62 21
  Bob Neiman 1957 30 54 24
  Larry Doby 1955 31 56 24
  Walker Cooper 1956 41 72 33
  Hank Sauer 1957 40 78 38
  Max Surkont 1956 34 80 46
  Casey Stengel 1963 73 85 12

The Granny Hamner card was added because the name alone makes him sound old.

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