(This is Day 1 of our series on the “Best Card From” each year, 1960-1989. Read all the entries here.)
Let’s play make-believe for a few minutes.
Imagine you grew up in Louisville, KY, during the 1940s with a love of baseball but facing an uncertain future. With the world embroiled in war and the US military draft in full force, your 1928 birth date put you right in line for a call from Uncle Sam.
Now imagine that the war ended — finally — when you were 16 and, when you were just 18, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed you to an amateur contract.
Envision a scenario that would put you in the Major Leagues three years later, when you were still just 21.
And how did you do?
Would you believe that you more than held your own, slugging 40 home runs over parts of the next three seasons?
Or that you built your reputation to the point that the Cincinnati Reds came calling and traded for you before then 1954 season ever began?
Imagine further that your debut campaign in old Crosley Field yielded 30 home runs, 105 runs batted in, an even .300 batting average, and an All-Star berth as you adjusted to life as the Reds’ new center fielder.
Pretty sweet dream, huh?
But it’s not quite time to wake up …
Picture if you will another half decade in which you regularly clubbed 15 or more homers and batted close to .300 while rubbing shoulders with big Ted Kluszewski and, soon enough, future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.
Gaze into the future, and you can see a time when your son, little Buddy, has established himself as one of the best third basemen in baseball.
A bit further down the line, you recognize your grandsons David and Mike in their own Big League duds. In your vision, all of you have made good in the game you love, establishing respected positions as solid gamers and more.
And baseball has provided for generations of your family.
But, in the more immediate future, you can see another couple good years with the Reds, maybe even a World Series appearance.
The years beyond don’t look so crystal clear for you, at least professionally, but for now, you’re still feared.
So feared, in fact, that Topps has featured you with Robinson and Jerry Lynch on a special card they have dubbed “Cincy Clouters.”
And what about your own baseball card in the 1960 Topps set? You know the one, right, number 235?
How would you pose for that card knowing all you do about what has come before and what still lies ahead for you and your family?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
That’s exactly how Gus Bell felt about the whole thing, too, at least judging by his can-you-believe-this-is-my-life goofiness on his 1960 Topps issue.
All baseball cards should display this much joy.
All baseball cards should deliver this much joy.
For my money, this is the best baseball card of 1960.