Vintage Baseball Cards: Topps 1953

1953 Cloyd BoyerIn celebration of the 65th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, my collection is going to be the subject of this year-long series.

Shortly after starting my obsession in 1971, the goal was to have at least one Topps card from every year.

Although the 1952 set is considered to be the first released by Topps, the company issued two series that was a part of the game a year earlier.

The 1953 set is one of my favorites as I have several cards that I’ve purchased or picked up in trades. The two cards highlighted here have a National Baseball Hall of Fame connection.

Both Cloyd Boyer and Luke Easter played for player/manager Lou Boudreau. In 1955, Boyer was in his last season of his career with the Kansas City A’s, while Easter was with the Cleveland Indians from 1949 to 1954.

Boyer is often forgotten as people remember his more famous younger brothers Ken Boyer and Clete Boyer.

The first of the three siblings to make it to the big leagues, Cloyd played from 1949 to 1955. He was with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1949 to 1952.

Ironically, he wasn’t in the majors in 1953. The righthander was in the Texas League with the Houston Buffaloes, which would be where Ken would play in 1954. Cloyd stayed in the minors in 1954 playing AAA ball in Rochester and Columbus.

The Rule 5 draft brought him to the A’s in 1955 where he would be a teammate of Clete as he was making his major league debut. Cloyd would be 5-5 that season, which would be his last in the majors. He finished his pro career in the minors with the Chicago White Sox, Philadephia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds.

Cloyd’s best year with the Cardinals was probably 1950 when he was 7-7 with a 3.24 ERA. Overall, he was 20-23 in the majors with a 117-97 mark in 14 minor league seasons.

On a side note, both of his brothers won World Series titles as players. Clete won the New York Yankees in 1961 and 1962, while Ken won in 1964 with the Cardinals the same year he claimed the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

After his playing days, Cloyd served as a coach for the Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals. He picked up his World Series ring with Yankees in 1977.

The Slugger

1953 Luke EasterEaster was known for his long home runs during his career. His days as a pro began in the Negro Leagues in 1947 with the Homestead Grays. A year later, the Grays won the Negro World Series.

In 1949, Easter started the season in the Pacific Coast League with the San Diego Padres. His 25 homers in 80 games earned him a call from the Cleveland Indians.

From 1950 to 1952, Easter was the starting first baseman for the Indians. During that stretch, the left-handed swinger blasted 86 homers and knocked in 307 runs adding to the success of all-star teammates Larry Doby and Al Rosen.

Age and injures caught up with Easter in 1953 and 1954 as he finished his big league career.

In 1953, he hit seven homers and had 31 RBI in 68 games. He appeared in six games the following season.

Although his actual age wasn’t known, Easter continued to play in the minor leagues until 1964. In 18 seasons as professional, Easter is credited with 367 homers and 1,285 RBI.

Likely in his early 40s, Easter’s best season was in 1957 when he hit 40 homers and knocked in 128 runs for the Buffalo Bisons as he earned the International League’s MVP honor. He was inducted in the IL Hall of Fame in 2008.