An American Hobby: Baseball Memorabilia – Harmon Killebrew’s 1955 Topps Rookie Card
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Saturday, April.20, 2013
MLB Reports: We are pleased to present you with Baseball Author Lee Edelstein as the newest writer with us at the Reports. Lee will be providing us with great stories about baseball memorabilia on a regular basis.
An American Hobby
This week’s article features a member of the 500 Home Run club.
During the decade of the 1960’s, sluggers named Hank Aaron,Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, and Frank Robinson, in the prime of their careers, bashed balls out of the ballpark in record fashion.
In 1961, Mantle and Maris duked it out as the baseball world watched their assault on Babe Ruth’s single season Home Run record. But after the dust had settled on the 60’s, it was a quiet gentleman named Harmon Killebrew who wound up hitting more Home Runs in the decade than anyone else.
Nicknamed “The Killer”, although he was anything but, he pounded 393 Home Runs in that ten year period:
Harmon Killebrew Tribute:
|Rank||Player (yrs, age)||Home Runs||Bats||HR Log|
|1.||Barry Bonds (22)||762||L||HR Log|
|2.||Hank Aaron+ (23)||755||R||HR Log|
|3.||Babe Ruth+ (22)||714||L||HR Log|
|4.||Willie Mays+ (22)||660||R||HR Log|
|5.||Alex Rodriguez (19, 37)||647||R||HR Log|
|6.||Ken Griffey (22)||630||L||HR Log|
|7.||Jim Thome (22)||612||L||HR Log|
|8.||Sammy Sosa (18)||609||R||HR Log|
|9.||Frank Robinson+ (21)||586||R||HR Log|
|10.||Mark McGwire (16)||583||R||HR Log|
|11.||Harmon Killebrew+ (22)||573||R||HR Log|
1960’s Home Run Leaders
⦁ Killebrew – 393
⦁ Aaron – 375
⦁ Mays – 360
⦁ Robinson – 316
⦁ McCovey – 300
The Killer would go on to hit a total of 573 Home Runs – which left him second only to Babe Ruth in American League career homers when he retired. Today, Killebrew is #11 on the all-time list of home run hitters and #7 in At-Bats/HR.
He is #37 in career RBI’s, #15 in walks, and #52 in WAR. With a lifetime Batting Average of .256 and an average fielder, Killebrew wasn’t among the truly elite of the game. But he was a dominant slugger of his day.
In his twenty-two year career, he led the AL in Home Runs six times, RBI three times, had Eight 40+ HR seasons, and 9- 100+ RBI seasons. He won the MVP Award in 1969 and finished in the top 5 six times. Because of his slugging prowess he was named an All-Star eleven times and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his fourth year of eligibility.
Harmon Killebrew might not have been a five-tool player but he was surely a five-tool person. He was the face of the Minnesota Twins franchise, a gentle man who was a first class gentleman who brought out the best in his teammates. Listen to his players speak of him after his death in 2011.
Last year, Harmon Killebrew’s 1955 Topps rookie card became a record breaker. Unlike the Wagner 1909 tobacco card, or the Lajoie 1933 Goudey, both of which are very rare, The Killer’s card is easy to find – PSA, the leading third-party baseball card grading company, has graded 2,945 Killebrew Topps rookie cards.
But, like many other collectibles, quality is everything. Of the almost 3,000 Killebrew rookie cards, only 0.6% (19) have received a grade of mint (PSA grade 9). A mint Killebrew commands a price of $7,500.
As tough as a mint Killebrew is to find, a gem mint (PSA grade 10) is next to impossible. In fact, only one gem mint Killebrew rookie card exists. And if you want the best, you have to pay the price, which, in this case, was $59,000 when that one-and-only card went up for auction this past May.
Do you have any Harmon Killebrew memorabilia – let us know!
So, if you haven’t done so lately, check your attic, closets, and other likely places where your old cards might be lurking. Amazingly, another rookie card from the Topps 1955 set recently sold for almost ten times more than The Killer’s card. That ballplayer will be the subject of next week’s article.
Stay tuned . . .
***The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners***
A big thank-you goes out to Our ‘Baseball Memorabilia Enthusiast’ Lee Edelstein for preparing today’s featured article. Lee was born and raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York.
He inherited his love of baseball from his dad. The game has been Lee’s constant companion since he was seven years old – when his dad took him to see his first ball game at Ebbets Field. This was followed by a brief and largely unsuccessful Little League career. While he wasn’t all that good on the ball field he became an ALL-Star at collecting baseball cards.
His collection is still alive today after surviving many scares over the years. Lee was also much better at business than playing baseball. He was good enough that he was able to retire and pursue his other passion – writing about baseball!
Chin Music is his first novel. He is hard at work on his second, Mound Music. You can read a full overview and find links to purchase here and also check out a quick synopsis in the picture below. Feel Free to follow Lee on Twitter and chat about the game of baseball. Follow @chinmusicstory
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Posted on April 20, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 1955 topps card set, @chinmusicstory on twitter, all time hr leaders, babe ruth, chin music the novel, ernie banks, frank robinson, hank aaron, harmon killebrew, HR Derby 1960's, jim thome, kansas city royals, ken griffey jr, lee edelstein, mickey mantle, mike schmidt, sammy sosa, washington senators, willie mays, willie mccovey, www.chinmusicstory.com. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.