Sunday, November 24, 2019

1951 Topps, Wally Westlake

#27 Wally Westlake

Around the same time I decided that I needed a signed '51 Bowman for the collection, I also decided that I needed a signed '51 Topps. So, I found this card of Wally Westlake at a reasonable price and dropped it in the mail. The beautiful, small, squarish piece of cardboard made it back home one month later. Wally even included three signed postcards commemorating highlights of his career.

Wally played in the Majors for parts of ten seasons with the Pirates, Cardinals, Reds, Indians, Orioles, and Phillies. He came up with Pittsburgh in 1947 at the age of twenty-seven and would go five straight seasons of hitting double digit home runs, including a single season best of 24 with the 1950 squad. Over that time, he also had two 90+ RBI campaigns and topped out at 105 in 1949.

Then, in June of 1951, Wally got traded to the Cardinals. Despite making his first and only All Star team that season, that trade signaled the beginning of the end for Wally's career. In 1952, Wally got traded twice more and eventually ended up in Cleveland. He stuck around there for for two and half seasons, but only as a part time player. It was with the Indians in 1954 where Wally played in his lone World Series. He got into just two games and went 1-7.

In 1956, Wally played in five games for the Phillies and then called it a career. Like many young men of Wally's generation, he lost three years of playing time to the War. That obviously delayed his Major League debut, but he had a fine start just the same. Besides playing in an All Star game and a World Series, he also hit for the cycle twice and was the first white batter ever hit by a black pitcher. That last part felt really weird typing, but is a true statement.

As for 1951 Topps, the set was actually some type of game. It consists of just 52 cards, just like a card deck. You can tell on the top of this card that the card has some perforation to it, so I have no idea how these cards were distributed. But, I am willing to bet that they did not come with gum. That is just a guess, though.

Here are the postcards Wally sent me.

Wally passed away a little over two months ago.

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