Bobby Cox, one of the newest Hall of Famers. had only a single mainstream baseball card issued during his playing days, in the 1969 Topps set.
You can't really fault Topps for not including Cox in its 1968 set, because he was making his first major league appearance that season, after eight years in the minors, and Topps may not have had a photo of him in a Yankees uniform.
By the time the 1970 set was being compiled, Cox had played his last game in the big leagues.
A couple of years ago I found a nice batting-pose photo of Cox from the Topps archives and knew that someday I'd be enhancing his baseball card presence with a custom creation.
When he was announced as having been elected to the Hall of Fame earlier this month, I figured the time had come.
I dithered for a while before deciding on which Topps format to use.
For some reason the Cox photo most strongly suggested to me a 1971-style card. While it would have been somewhat of an anachronism, it would not have been completely "wrong." The Yankees had, after all, re-signed Cox in July, 1971, after having released him at the end of the 1970 season. He was obviously re-signed for the purpose of developing him as a manager, rather than using him as a player, but a '71-style card wouldn't have been too jarring.
Nobody would have thought twice about seeing Cox on a 1970 Topps card. Though he had lost the starting third baseman job to Jerry Kenney in 1969, Cox had played most of the final month of the season at the hot corner when Kenney had been moved to shortstop.
While a 1970-style Cox custom would have been the most "believable," that format has never been one of my favorites.
In the end I decided to do a pair of Cox cards, in the 1968 and 1971 formats. While the '68 is a decent-looking card, it turns out my gut feeling about a '71 was right.
I think Cox was worth two of my cards, since he was manager of my favorite team in its 1990s heyday. Besides, as I said once in an SCD column 15-20 years ago, as Cox aged, he looked more and more like Charlie Grimm, and for a Milwaukee Braves fan in the 1950s, that wasn't a bad thing.