Vintage cards are cool. Some are cool because they’re valuable. Some are cool because they’re beautiful. Some are cool because they’re valuable or rare. Then there are cards that are just…cool.
I recently picked up a PSA 6 vintage card and realized it was just a really interesting card, with three great players and some historical significance. Today, I’ll share a look at the card – 1959 Topps number 166, “Destruction Crew.”
Starting in the 1950s and continuing off-and-on over the years, Topps (and later other companies like Donruss, Fleer, and Score, and Upper Deck) produced multi-player cards that weren’t leader cards, or all-star cards, or other subsets that you’d come to expect. They were a bit different.
Some featured players on the same team with some theme, or a coach and a player, while many featured players from several teams in photos that were likely taken at the All-Star Game or potentially before a game when their two teams faced off.
In many cases, it feels like Topps came across photos and simply thought “That’s a great photo…we need to make it into a card” and that was all the excuse they needed. Thank goodness they had the foresight to do this, as these cards are absolute classic vintage cards that feature some great players, great moments, and great stories.
The 166th card in the 1959 Topps set is a classic example of the classic Topps multi-player card. Titled “Destruction Crew”, it features the Cleveland Indians’ All-Star Outfield of Minnie Minoso, Rocky Colavito, and Larry Doby.
Combined, these three outfielders appeared in 31 All-Star games during their careers. Two are Hall of Famers as well as trailblazers of significance in the history of baseball.
In case you can’t make out the text on the card back, I wanted to capture it here because it’s full of some old-school gems.
“When your team can boast of an outfield that produces a total of 78 homers and the staggering total of 238 R.B.I’s in one season, you’ve got quite a ball club. That’s just what Minnie, Rocky, and Larry did for the Indians last season. Rocky was the A.L Slugging King was No. 3 in the M.V.P voting. In addition to the plate power, this trio is endowed with speed aplenty and all are expert flycatchers. Larry Doby owns a wall full of records and awards. He was homer champ in 1952 and again in 1954. Five times he has driven in more than 100 runs in a season, and he’s been on the A.L. all-star team 5 times. In 8 years of Major League ball, Minnie has a better than .300 mark and an 87 R.B.I. per year average. He’s also been the A.L. swiping monarch three times.”
Wow. “Slugging King”, “endowed with speed aplenty”, “expert flycatchers”, and “swiping monarch”. They just don’t write card backs like they used to!
The 1959 Destruction Crew card has a total PSA pop of 842, with only 19 PSA 9’s and ZERO PSA 10’s. It is most plentiful in the PSA 5 to PSA 8 range, which is not unusual for graded cards of this vintage. For a card of its vintage with notable players, this pop is on the lower side.
|Card||PSA 6||PSA 7||PSA 8||PSA 9||PSA 10||Total PSA Pop|
|1959 Topps Destruction Crew #166||163||263||225||19||0||842|
When graded by PSA, the card sells for a solid price without being a bank breaker, making it a fun pickup for fans of vintage cards, especially these multi-player cards featuring such interesting players.
Recent sales of PSA 6 graded copies have been in the $50-70 range, with PSA 8 selling for $115-150 of late. These prices may be slightly boosted by the recent Hall of Fame induction of Minnie Minoso.
In ungraded raw condition, the card is even more affordable, with low-grade copies selling for $10-20, and occasionally even lower.
Saturnino Orestes Armas (“Minnie”) Minoso is one of the more interesting players in the history of major league baseball. While more known for his years with the White Sox (he was known as “Mr. White Sox” in Chicago), he got his start in the majors in Cleveland with the Indians.
He began his career in the Negro Leagues before getting a chance to play in the major leagues starting in 1949. He was one of the first dark-skinned Cuban players to appear in the major leagues and dealt with a lot of unfortunate racism on and off the field. For example, he led the league in being hit by pitch ten times.
While he dealt with hardship, he excelled on the field. Minoso appeared in 13 All-Star games and won three Gold Gloves while compiling 53.8 career WAR and a 299/.387/.461 line, good for an OPS of .848 and OPS+ of 130. He led the league in stolen bases three times and triples four times.
Minoso even came out of retirement twice to pinch hit for the White Sox, in 1976 and 1980 at ages 52 and 56, respectively.
In 2022, Minnie Minoso was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after spending many years on most fans’ “most deserving” list. The long-overdue honor helped bring Minoso’s greatness into focus for fans of all ages.
By career WAR and the fact that he’s the one player pictured on the card that isn’t in the Hall of Fame, Colavito is the “worst” player on this card. There aren’t many other multi-player cards where that’d be the case. Colavito was a star in his own right. At 88 years young, Colavito is also the only player featured on this card who is still with us.
Colavito racked up 44.8 career WAR including 374 home runs to go with a .266/.359/.489 career line. He was a 9-time All Star and at one point in his career hit 20 or more home runs for 11 straight seasons. He was a great slugger and a great outfielder and memorable addition to the Destruction Crew.
Snag a Rocky Colavito rookie card on eBay
Larry Doby is somehow both famous and underrated. He was just the second black player to appear in Major League Baseball, and the first in the American League, when he debuted for the Cleveland Indians three months after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Unlike Robinson, who played in the minor leagues before his debut, Doby went straight from the Negro Leagues to the American League.
Doby was a trailblazer, who dealt with all the same racism that Jackie Robinson did. He, like Robinson, was also an amazing player.
Doby was worth 56.5 WAR in his career, with a .288/.389/.499 career line with 273 career home runs. He was a 9-time All-Star and twice led his league in home runs. He was a two-time world champion, once each in the Negro and American Leagues.
Doby was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1998.
Minnie Minoso’s rookie cards are generally accepted to be in the 1952 Berk Ross, Bowman, and Topps sets. He does appear on a rare and expensive 1945-46 Caramelo Deportivo Cuban league card from his days in the Negro Leagues.
PSA has only graded 19 examples of that card, none graded higher than PSA 3, with 14 of the 19 being PSA 1. An autographed PSA 1 is listed on eBay for $9,999 (with free shipping!)
Colavito debuted during the Topps monopoly years, so the only Rocky Colavito rookie card is the 1957 Topps #212.
The Larry Doby rookie card is from his first appearances in the 1948-49 Leaf and 1949 Bowman sets.
|Card||Total PSA Pop||Recent Sale Pop||Recent Sale Price|
|1945-46 Caramelo Deportivo Cuban League #27 Orestes Minoso||19||NA||NA|
|1952 Berk Ross Minnie Minoso||40||NA||NA|
|1952 Bowman Minnie Minoso #5||682||PSA 6 = 145||PSA 6 = $400-600|
|1952 Topps Minnie Minoso #1959||1,066||PSA 7 = 104||PSA 7 = $1,900|
|1957 Topps Rocco Colavito #212||2,643||PSA 8 = 404||PSA 8 = $320-380|
|1948-49 Leaf Larry Doby #138||152||PSA 2 = 16||PSA 2 = $2,500|
|1949 Bowman Larry Doby #233||573||PSA 5 = 103||PSA 5 = $2,000|
As you can see, with few exceptions, these rookie cards are low population and are strong sellers when they become available. While any of these rookie cards would be great additions to any collection, the appeal of the affordable Destruction Crew card should also be evident.
1959 Topps Destruction Crew #166 is a beautiful 63-year-old card featuring players of historical significance that is as affordable as it is fun. If you’re a fan of vintage cards, there’s a place in your collection for a copy of this card.
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