NBC News is running a story on the death of Sy Berger. You probably never heard of him. I certainly hadn’t. But he’s important to every baseball fan. He invented the modern baseball card.
Apparently in the 1950s he worked for Topps and came up with the idea of putting six cards in a pack with a stick of gum. Baseball cards weren’t new, but they weren’t common and you didn’t get six with a stick of gum for a nickel. He sat at his table at home and created the first ones using scissors and cardboard. He put stats on the back, a short bio, the team logo went on the front, and of course there was a picture of the player on the front. His most famous card is the 1952 Mickey Mantle.
Berger was 91 when he died yesterday. Anyone who collected baseball cards owes him a debt. I still have a handful. I think I’ll take a look at a few of them, but I won’t miss the gum. The gum was awful, the cards sublime. RIP, Sy, and thanks.