When Ernie Banks announced his retirement in December of 1971, he pretty much blew up any chance of landing on a career-capper card in the 1972 Topps set.

Back in those days, if a guy for sure wasn’t going to be on a Major League roster in a given year, he for sure wasn’t going to appear on a baseball card … legend or not.

But in Banks’ case, there was a wrinkle to the story, and there was some hedging on that “no card” situation, too.

For one thing, those were the years when Topps sets came with a complete complement of team sets, and they were also the “floating heads” years when it came to Cubs team cards.

Thus, while there was no solo Banks card in that psychedelic ‘72 issue, there was a Banks head on the team card:

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Beyond that happy happenstance, Banks had laid the groundwork for a little more stealth 1970s cardboard.

See …

Back in 1967, Mr. Cub had taken up a dual role as player/coach, and he held onto the latter half of that title after he hung up his spikes as an active player.

And so, when Topps rolled out a run of manger-plus-coach cards in their 1973 set, collectors got one more dose of Banks in a Cubs uniform (well, hat), courtesy of his position as a member of manager Whitey Lockman’s supporting cast:

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Sure, it’s a tiny little headshot of the 500-home-run man, and it’s all draped in orange, but Ernie’s megawatt smile still shines through the decades.

You have to imagine it seemed even brighter to collectors and Cubs fans when it first popped out of wax all those years ago.

So, no — there was no Ernie Banks career-capper card (in the moment, at least), but Mr. Cub was still there for fans and collectors … if they knew where to look.


Hobby Wow!

Banks was a superstar for nearly 20 years, but he was at his absolute peak in the 1950s while wearing spikes that looked something like these:

According to the seller, those are a pair of game-used Banks spikes from that golden decade.

Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).

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