The 1954 Topps Baseball Card set was a definite new direction for design. A smaller set than either the 1952 or 1953 issues, this release still boasts a fabulous mix of Hall of Fame players and rookies. This set has appeal to 50s collectors who do not want to worry about a high-priced Mantle card or a large set. For both of these reasons, the interest in the set remains strong. Topps scored a victory that help cement this set in the mind of youngsters by signing Ted Williams to an exclusive contract. The war between Topps and Bowman had heated up and Topps made sure that the 1954 set started with Teddy Ballgame.
Number of Cards
The card count for the 1954 set plummeted all the way down to 250 (only about 60% the size of the 1952 release). The small size is generally attributed to contract signings of players by Bowman and financial difficulties as both Topps and Bowman waged war for baseball card dominance. The smaller size makes this a hotly collected set.
Size of Cards
The cards are still a then standard of 2 5/8 by 3 3/4" very close to the cards of today which are 2 1/2 by 3 1/2".
The card front shifted in a new direction in 1954. Smaller fonts replaced the large boxes of the past. A full color team logo was still used and Topps re-introduced the facsimile autograph last seen on the 1952 set. The most distinctive feature is the first use of a large portrait shot and a small full-bodied action pose. This design was well received and Topps would continue in this same vein for the next two years. The backs switched back to a horizontal format and like the 1953 Topps set still have one line of previous year stats and career stats plus the usual biographical information. A cartoon "Inside Baseball" feature completes the design.
The cards were issued in 1-cent, 5-cent packs with the ubiquitous bubble gum stick and also were issued in a cello pack. It is unknown exactly how many series this set was issued in. Current collectors generally believe it to be around four. Topps basically ironed out the production and distribution issues that had plagued the previous issues for the 1954 release. There are no scarce short print cards and the high numbers don't command a premium as in previous years.
The loss of Mickey Mantle to rival Bowman was immediately noticed by collectors. But where one great was lost another was gained. Ted Williams was signed to an exclusive five year contract and was proudly featured as bookends to the set appearing on both the #1 and #250 cards. His handsome visage makes this one of the finest #1 cards in any Topps set. Rookie cards abound with the all-time greats Hank Aaron, Al Kaline and Ernie Banks being the most notable. Other gems include Willie Mays and the great slugger Duke Snider. In addition, a collector can find the usual sprinkling of many, many other Hall of Famers.