As part of the 70th anniversary celebration of Topps baseball cards, we asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards and we sorted them by team. We will be revealing proposals regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.
Craig Biggio, 1994 Topps Finest
This card is right when Craig Biggio was entering his prime, and it’s a wild, 90s-looking card, with tons of bold colors framing Biggio as he takes a throw from second base.
The Hall of Famer won their first Gold Glove Award in ’94 and led the National League in doubles and steals, but the story fan Randal Alvarado from Indio, California told about why he sent this paper is the best part.
“One day while I was sick, I was watching baseball highlights and Craig Biggio appeared in the highlights video,” Alvarado wrote. “And I kept watching Craig Biggio’s highlights because I was like, ‘Wow, he’s such a good player.’ So the next week I went to the store and grabbed a deck of baseball cards, and in that deck was Craig Biggio, and I was like, ‘Hey, I was just looking at his highlights last week.’
Classic Rookie Astros Card: Jeff Bagwell, 1991 Topps Traded
It’s odd to see Jeff Bagwell without his signature goatee (see best facial hair card, below), but first baseman looked neat when he broke into the big leagues. He makes up for the lack of facial hair here with a sweet mullet, accentuated by the interesting choice to forgo sideburns.
Bagwell was initially a Red Sox farmhand, but Boston infamously traded Bagwell to the Astros for veteran pitcher Larry Andersen in the 1990s. Bagwell went on to play 15 years in the Majors, all for Houston, debuting in ’91 and amassing a career in the Hall of Fame. – Thomas Harrigan
Jose Tolentino, 1992 Topps
At first glance, this 1992 Topps card doesn’t seem all that special. After all, Jose Tolentino appeared in just 44 Major League games, all in 1991, hitting 0.259 with a home run. But for an anonymous fan who submitted this card in our poll, it was truly special.
“I’m not an Astros fan, nor is Tolentino my favorite player,” the fan wrote. “The reason this card is my favorite is because it was the last card I needed to complete the 1992 Topps set, the first I’ve ever completed from scratch. I also had the micro version of this card. [1992 Topps Micro] before taking the real one. I finally found this in a comic shop with a card shop in the back. All I remember was paying around $ 0.10 for the card and walking out of the shop screaming that I was finally done with the set. “
Super Micro! Remember those? Small versions of the 1992 Topps set, an interesting little experiment that went nowhere. This Tolentino card represents the sheer joy of collecting an entire set of baseball cards – it doesn’t matter who the last guy is, just that you have him.
– Manny Randhawa
Jose Altuve, 2019 Donruss Optics
This card proudly proclaims what Jose Altuve was in 2017: the American League MVP.
The letters, with a comet-like trail behind them, sit atop a portrait-style photo of Altuve making a wobble. The back of the card reads: “Altuve peaked his game in 2017, putting together a year unlike any other in recent history.”
The Astros star won the MLB batting crown in ’17 by hitting .346, led the AL with 204 hits, hit 24 home runs, had 32 stolen bases and led Houston to a World Series championship.
Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson, 1965 Topps
Joe Morgan’s ’65 rookie season was also the first year after the Houston baseball franchise changed its name from Colt .45s to Astros. However, Morgan drank a cup of coffee with the team in ’63 and ’64, so his first Topps card in ’65 depicts him wearing a Colt .45 hat.
Morgan appears alongside Sonny Jackson on the card, which he dubbed the two “1965 rookie stars”.
Morgan ended up finishing second in the ’65 NL Rookie of the Year vote, kicking off a career in the Hall of Fame. Jackson, meanwhile, made his mark the following year, also finishing second in the NL ROY race. But unlike Morgan, Jackson was unable to keep up and played his last Major League game on his 30th birthday in ’74.
The fact sheet was submitted by Robert Pitts Jr. of Eureka, California who wrote:
“My dad grew up in Houston and got to see the opening years of the Colt .45 and Astro. … When the Astrodome was completed, public tours were happening where my father and his father (my grandfather) went to one in December 1964. My father had a new hobby of videography and brought the family 8mm camera with him. . A few months later, on April 27, 1965, they returned for one of the first home games of the new Astros team. The camera went with my dad again.
“On second base was Joe Morgan in his rookie year. I discovered video footage just last year when I digitized my father’s 8mm film and saw the amazing experience he and his grandfather had. I recently bought this card and, with the film, I will always have a great story of my grandfather and my dad, with the Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. ” – Thomas Harrigan
Best Astros Facial Hair Card: Jeff Bagwell, 2019 Topps Stadium Club
Bagwell sported a goatee for most of his 15-year career, but took it to another level towards the end, as you can see from this tab. What an amazing work of art, even prepared so that there was a point in the end. The warm-up jacket just makes it so much better.
Clearly, Bagwell has decided to grow a beard as a veteran part-time player, but why not? He was on his way to the Hall of Fame with a resume that included 449 home runs and a career OPS of .948. He also had a Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP Award to his name. Plus, when you chat with young people, it gives off a great “older boy” vibe.
– Manny Randhawa
Carlos Correa, 2015 Topps Chrome
On this card, a young Carlos Correa, already dirty uniform, looks at the ball in his glove as he plays a game at shortstop. Correa was a 20-year-old beginner in 2015, but not just any newbie.
The Astros phenomenon won the AL Rookie of the Year Award after hitting .279 with 22 home runs and stealing 14 bases in 99 games, beating fellow shortstop Francisco Lindor of Cleveland. Two seasons later, Correa helped bring Houston to the 2017 World Series championship.
This charter was presented by Elijah Juarez of San Antonio, who had Correa sign it himself.
“This Carlos Correa card is my favorite because I went to the Academy after going to an Astros game and met him at the store,” he explained.
Craig Biggio, 1988 Fleer
Biggio is loved in Houston after spending all of his 20-year career in the Hall of Fame with the Astros. Initially a catcher, Biggio was part of Fleer’s set of 88 before making his big league debut that same year.
The card features an all-business Biggio with a club on his shoulder, dressed in a blue warm-up shirt with rainbow stripes on the club’s 80s shoulders.
“Craig Biggio is THE MAN in Astros history,” wrote Austin Cook of Houston, who sent this card. “He’s still my favorite player and it’s fun to watch him [Cavan] Now play Biggio ”. – Thomas Harrigan
Astros: Casey Candaele, upper deck from 1993
Casey Candaele is probably not the first player you think of when you think of Astros cards. But this card is a great example of how beautiful the 1993 Upper Deck set is. Each card has “Upper Deck” on top, with the letters spaced apart. And each image has a kind of “3D” look because it is in the foreground on the card – in other words, the “Upper Deck” is always behind the player.
This card, in particular, is special for its incredible action shot, which catches Candaele jumping for a line drive to shortstop during a game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Whether it’s an illusion created by the photo or its actual vertical, Candaele could jump. Finally, baseball is right between the words “Upper” and “Deck”.
There are many cards in this set that have incredible visual appeal, but this one is unique. Jared from Pensacola, Florida submitted this fact sheet in our survey and summed it up best.
“I grew up as a huge Astros fan, I still am,” wrote Jared. “It would grace anything Astros, and I thought it was just the coolest card when I was little.”
There, right there: this is just the most beautiful card. – Manny Randhawa
Astros Iconic Card: JR Richard, 1980 Topps
Standing 6-foot-8 and coupling throttle at 100 mph with an electric slider, JR Richard was a massive force on the mound.
Despite some control issues, the right became one of the National League’s top pitchers in the late 1970s, averaging 18 wins, 281 innings and 261 strikeouts per season, while recording an ERA of 2.88 since ’76 to 79. He is one of nine pitchers of the modern era (since 1900) to reach the goal of 300 strikeouts in several seasons.
Richard was on course for another brilliant campaign before he suffered a stroke on July 30, 1980, causing a sudden end to his career.
Richard’s 1980 Topps paper was submitted by Craig Maguire of Olean, NY
“This is my favorite card because this was the year I started collecting them as a kid. The Astros were my favorite team, but being from New York, I didn’t have many opportunities to see them live or on TV, so the cards were my attachment to the team. Even at 10, I could see from that high-leg kick and imposing figure, JR was bad business, “Maguire wrote.
– Thomas Harrigan