Tuesday, March 27, 2012

1958 Topps-style Ed Bouchee "completes" set

Kids looking to complete a set of 1958 Topps baseball cards back in the day were confounded by the inability to locate card #145, Ed Bouchee. 

The Second Series checklist on the back of the Washington Senators team card (#44) confirmed that the Phillies slugging young star first baseman was card #145. But, hold on. The Second Series checklist on the back of the Phillies team card (#134) had no name beside the box for card #145. 

Was there, or was there not, a 1958 Topps card #145 Ed Bouchee?

There was not. 

At least until now . . . sort of .

My latest custom card creation is a 1958 Topps-style card #145, Ed Bouchee.

I'm not going to go into the reasons Topps did not issue the card. It's a sad story that serves no purpose in the retelling. 

Even today, some collectors are not 100% certain that Topps did not print the Bouchee card and that at least a few made it into gum packs. I'm of the opinion that the card was never printed. If it had been on the Second Series press sheet, I'm certain that at least a few would have slipped out. Despite internet rumors to the contrary, nobody has ever seen an authentic '58 Topps Bouchee.

Bouchee made his Topps rookie card appearance in the scarce 1957 #265-352 series. Batting .293 with 17 home runs and 76 RBIs that season, he came in second to teammate Jack Sanford in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting. The Sporting News, which divided its own Rookie of the Year awards between pitchers and position players, made Bouchee its N.L. position player winner.

In the remaining five years of Bouchee's major league career, he never again matched his '57 hitting numbers, and ended big league days as a member of the original 1962 N.Y. Mets expansion team. 

With the exception of 1958, Bouchee appeared on Topps cards every year between 1957-62.

It may be coincidental, but the only other major multi-team baseball card issue of 1958, the Hires Root Beer carton stuffers set of 76, also has an unissued card. There is no card #69. However, since there is also no checklist, we'll never know if Bouchee was intended to be part of that set.

For my custom card, I chose to go with the dramatic black background that, if my memory serves me correctly, was only seen on Phillies cards in the 1958 Topps set. I liked those as a kid, and I like them now.

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