Text-on-the-Front cards: please help identify the best.

Every now and then, insert cards appear with Just the Right Match of words and photos on the FRONT of the card.

There's probably an official way to classify what we're looking for. "Card-front captions?"

The card/photo match should exemplify that brevity is the soul of wit. An example might be the famous 1971 Topps Brooks Robinson. Sorry for the postage-stamp size photo here, but the eternally great caption is: 'B. Robinson Commits Robbery.'

If you don't have your magnifying glass handy, let us summarize: in this card we have the pairing of a fantastic World Series moment with B. Robinson in the dirt, the lone soul on his knees scrapping for victory, the 'Robinson-rob' repetition--oh it is actually impossible to count the levels of wonderfulness so we won't even try. But this card may be a high watermark of the photo/caption greatness we seek.

The card front can't have JUST great text OR a great photo. It must have both and the picture must be perfect with perfect text. The two elements must be equally matched. Stats and others have mentioned the great Casey Teaches:

Again, if you lack a magnifying glass, we ponder, what is Casey teaching Ed here, exactly? That the tool before them is a bat? And why is Ed's attention wandering? As many questions are raised by the text/photo pairing as are answered. Yet, the card is perfection.

Then there is the occasional card that really SHOULDN'T be a Top Ten front-of-the-card-caption but nevertheless is. For instance:

Normally, "headline"-style cards don't do much for us, but Davis Sparks Rally is, well, electric.

But should headline-style cards even be allowed in the Top Ten?

To be clear, straightforwardness isn't necessary for the Top Ten. For example, this card would NOT make the list:

Too factual. Nice, but not captivating. Not an inducement to collect, if you know what we mean. However, this is as straightforward as they come, as simple as possible: what about the father-son brother-brother cards? Lucy loves 'em:

The text says "Father-Son" and then pairs two nifty photos. Are these profound or not? Are any of these possible to include in the Top Ten Greatest Card Text on the Front Paired With Awesome Baseball Card Photography Category?

Leafing through our own baseball cards we once again realized how often vintage saves the day, even when they're dinged or threadbare. Vintage cards have something going for them that we can't quite articulate. Is it feng shui? Lack of bling? Honesty? Classic styling? The fact that most of the cards DON'T picture multi-millionaires? What is the mystique? Also, we find that often the THEME is presented but rarely is the theme presented memorably. It's the memorable pairing we seek. We are not enthralled by:

And yet we adore:

Do you see what we mean? And then the question may come up, is it possible for a new card to fulfill this Great Text on the Front of the Card Matched With The Perfect Photo that we desperately seek? Why yes. Look:

It's Upper Deck, for heaven's sake. Look at the great photo, though! The headline, the blatant recollection of DEM BUMS! The date specified! The stadium! And the bat-in-the-Brooklyn-Bridge logo. My God, man, this is inspired!

Right now, because Blogville Teaches, we'd very much like to focus on this question and seek your wisdom--and, if possible, your scans.

What are the best front-of-the card baseball card photo-and-caption examples? And why are they your favorites?

And thank you, blog people, for so often being willing to share your wisdom and always enlightening thoughts with the likes of us.


MattR said...

How about 1964 Topps #268.

"Bill's Got It"

What the heck did they mean by that? It would really look odd on a checklist.

zman40 said...

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any good captions. But, I was wondering about that Robinson card. I have never seen that Brooklyn Bridge/Bat logo before. Was that an actual Dodger logo at one point or did UD manufacture it to spark interest?

Steve said...

nice post . . .I like the "Manager's Dream" card # 480 from Topps 1968. I will keep looking.

mikepelfreyshouse said...

Thats a great Jackie Robinson card!

mmosley said...

You have inspired me once again: http://stats-on-the-back.blogspot.com/2009/03/text-on-card-fronts.html

James B. Anama said...

Actually, Steve has the right idea, but that wasn't the Manager's Dream card I was thinking. Try the 1962 Topps #18 "Manager's Dream" with Mays and Mantle.

I think the book "300 Great Baseball Cards" by Mike Payne said it best,

"And the winner of the most appropriately named card ever is..."


JayBee Anama

dayf said...

I'd have to do some research to find one as perfect at the Robbery card, but I can think of two I really like. 1959 Topps #467 Aaron Clubs World Series Homer, features Hank and Yogi, who are two of my all-time favorites, watching Hank bop one out of the yard during game 4 of the '57 Series. The other one is 1958 Topps #351 Braves Fence Busters. There's another Fence Busters card in the 1959 set with Hank and Eddie Matthews, but the '58 version has the two Hall of Famers book ended by Del Crandall and Joe Adcock. Those two were great players in their own right, even if they aren't Hall of Famers. Sort of comparable with Brad Ausmus and Derrek Lee today.