Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vintage Fridays: Johnny Lipon, 1954 Topps #19

This is not only one of the oldest cards in my collection, it is without a doubt the most schizophrenic. As you can see, Johnny is pictured in a Red Sox cap, but identified as an Oriole. If you take a close look at the full-body photo at bottom left, you'll see that Topps attempted to airbrush the Orioles' crossed-bats-and-ball logo onto his cap. It gets better if you flip the card over. The team name on the back is the White Sox.


Here's the timeline. On September 8, 1953, the Browns purchased Lipon's contract from the Red Sox. Of course, that offseason, the Brownies moved from St. Louis to Baltimore and became the Orioles. In February of 1954, the Birds dealt Johnny to Chicago in a four-player swap. Clear as mud? The infielder's travels didn't end there. On April 18, he was traded to the Reds, who released him 11 days later. His eight-plus year career ended with just one official at-bat in 1954.

The split personality of this card doesn't end with the team affiliation. As you can see, Johnny's listed as a third baseman. However, his card back talks about his defensive prowess at shortstop; indeed, he led American League shortstops in assists and double plays in 1950, and topped the circuit with a .980 fielding percentage two years later. It's worth noting that Lipon played 717 career games at shortstop, and only 15 at the hot corner. (There were also two games at second base tossed in for good measure.) To throw in one more bit of surreality, a previous owner of this card wrote "O.F." in ink next to Johnny's name on the card back.

Who knew that baseball cards could be so confusing?


William said...

"This card is more confusing than my third marriage."
-- Norman Chad

Kevin said...

Pay the man, Shirley.

jacobmrley said...

$1.25 - sweet!