Remember that time Topps printed a career-capper card of Roger Maris?

Oh, right, that never happened because Maris retired after the 1968 season at the age of 34, giving Topps enough time to NOT include him in their 1969 set.

But, the man who broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record sureal at least got a Yankees career-capper, right? A card that showed all those great seasons he turned in wearing pinstripes?

Sure thing.

The Bronx Bombers traded Maris to the Cardinals in December of 1966, but he had played that summer in Yankee Stadium, as always.

His 1967 Topps card captured that last bit of NY Maris:

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And the card back showed his complete career stats through 1966, including everything he did with the Yanks:

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Heck, Maris even landed some nifty Yankees-centric cartoons and a career highlights text, in addition to his minor league and early major league stats with the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Athletics.

It was a decent cardboard bow on his Bronx career, even if he wouldn’t get the same overall treatment two years later.

The problem is, of course, this final Yankees card never happened.

See, here is the real 1967 Topps Maris card:

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Seems Topps had enough time between the Card-Yanks trade to reflect the deal in their new set, even if they didn’t have enough time to get The Rajah in his new uniform.

So, enterprising bunch that they were, they broke out one of those cap-bill-to-the-camera headshots, softened out Yankee Stadium in the background, and changed the team name on the card to CARDS.

And left the pinstripes.

But if this is the issued 1967 Topps Maris, what of the one showing him with the Yankees?

Ah, consider it proof of life. Or proof of change, at least.

Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Topps began cranking out limited print runs of at least some of their new cards early each season as a means of showing them off and looking for any big problems that cropped up on the way between concept and production.

Meant for internal use, a few of these “proof cards” always seemed to walk out the door.

You could spot one because the proofs had blank backs. And, sometimes, they were different than the card eventually issued to the public.

Like when a legend changed teams … almost like Topps wanted to make sure the trade would “stick.”

That Maris trade stuck, and then so did retirement in 1968.

Through the 1980s, the 1967 Topps Maris-Yankees card was almost mythical, much in the same vein as the 1977 Topp Reggie Jackson Orioles card.

Today, we have, ahem, proof that they’re both real, though, with the ‘67 Topps Maris blank-back turning up often enough that you can’t really call it rare in this era of super limited print runs and one-of-ones … but you can call it expensive.

Expect to pay multiple thousands if you really, really have to have one last look at Roger in pinstripes, pretty much regardless of condition.

Or you could just dig into any of the hundreds of modern cards that turned the trick Topps wouldn’t or couldn’t all those years ago — a Yankess swan song, with all the statistical trimmings you could want.

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1981 Topps Card #150 Kellen Winslow

End Date: Tuesday 07/23/2024 11:22:34 EDT
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