Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXXIV
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 7/29/2011
Of the 100,138 Topps baseball cards from the year 1955 graded by PSA, a mere 30 have ever garnered the coveted ranking of PSA 10 GEM MINT. That number 30 equals a mind-numbing .0299% of the total PSA graded universe for 1955 Topps offerings. Yes, two-one hundredths of one percent.
With that statistic in mind, we are proud to unveil one of the true gems of the 1955 Topps set. Card #180 of Dodger great, Clem Labine at GEM MINT 10. Ironically, two of the thirty PSA 10’s on record from the Topps 1955 set are Labine #180 cards. We can’t explain the statistical anomaly; however, we can tell you that your chances of ever seeing this card again at auction, or any other PSA GEM MINT 1955 Topps example, is incredibly slim.
In an era when pitchers were still generally expected to finish the games they started, Labine became a household name as a reliever. A bit of free spirit for the Dodgers, the right-handed sinker-baller could be devastatingly effective.
Labine’s 1955 Topps offering is of significance for two reasons. First, 1955, of course, represents the only World Championship for the famed “Boys of Summer,” as defined by author Roger Kahn. But secondly, ’55 was one of Labine’s finest seasons and his contributions were critical to the Dodgers most successful of campaigns while in Brooklyn.
During the 1955 season, Labine could do virtually no wrong. He appeared in a then staggering 60 games, winning 13. Never a threat at the plate, all of Labine’s hits, all three of them, in 1955 were home runs. During the season when the Dodgers needed him most, Labine responded.
One of Labine’s greatest career feats involved his ability to retire Dodger-killer and all-time great Stan “The Man” Musial. While Musial tormented even the best of NL pitchers for parts of three decades, retiring with a career .331 average, Musial couldn’t buy a hit off of Clem Labine. In fact, Labine’s mastery of “The Greatest Cardinal of Them All” was so complete, he once retired Musial in 49 consecutive plate appearances. No one in history ever pitched better against the St. Louis star, who retired with 3,660 hits.
While thought of primarily as a reliever, Labine had two shining moments as a starter. In Game 2 of the 1951 post season playoff with the Giants, Labine dominated the New Yorkers posting a 10-0 shutout. In 1956, in Game Six of the World Series, Labine was at his best, beating the Yankees 1-0 in a 10-inning complete game.
As for the card offered here, call it scarce. Call it rare. Call it incredible. But GEM MINT really says it all. From a pure and clear portrait of the young reliever, to the perfect action pose. Every color, every cut, every corner belies time. Rarely in this life to we get to witness perfection, but in this tiny treasure, this relic from one of baseball’s greatest seasons, a small bit of history has been preserved for us in a fashion that is nothing short of extraordinary. In all the baseball world, there is no higher grade than GEM MINT 10. And at this moment, you’re looking at one of the hobby’s finest GEM MINT 10’s. To the victor the spoils.
POP Report: Highest graded example. 1 of 2 GEM MINT 10’s. Only 1 PSA 9 and 1 PSA 8.5 recorded. Total population: 429.
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