As a card collecting kid who grew up in the 90's, most of my favorite sets are from those times. I've mentioned them here on the blog plenty of times; '91 Fleer, '92 Pinnacle, '93 Upper Deck, '93 Topps. Since I've become a "card blogger", I've grown to appreciate some of the vintage sets as well; '71 and '73 Topps are some of my all-time favorites, and I've gotten all the Padres from them (well, most of them).
But if I had to choose a set that I am completely in love with before the 70's, it is - hands down - the early 50's Mother's Cookies cards.
Mother's Cookies put out baseball cards for players in the Pacific Coast League in 1952 and 1953. The Padres were members of that league, and these are the oldest Padre cards I've been able to get my hands on.
Here is the most recent addition to my '50s Mother's Cookies collection...
Quite a few of the players in the set are former major leaguers who were winding down their ball playing careers in the PCL. Al Benton is one of those. But don't sleep on Benton, the dude was big time back in his hey day.
Benton broke into the big leagues in 1934 with the Philadelphia A's, and was with them for two seasons before going to the Detroit Tigers. He was an All-Star in '41 and '42, but missed the next two seasons while serving in the Navy during World War II. He rejoined the team in '45 and had his best season, coming in second in the AL in ERA. The league leader was his teammate, Hal Newhouser.
Together, they teamed up and led the Tigers to a seven game World Series triumph over the Chicago Cubs. Benton was a relief pitcher in three of those games, and though he started 27 games for the World Series champs, he would be a relief pitcher for the majority of his big league career.
Among other things, he is noted for being the only pitcher to face both Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. He also is the only player to have two sacrifice bunts in the same inning, which happened against the Indians in 1941.
This battered piece of cardboard is the one that I chose to use to commemorate my 500th post. Of the five cards I have from the 50's Mother's Cookies sets, it doesn't look the worst, but it has the most serious crease - holding it horizontal from one end, the other side will flop over at a 40 degree angle or so. Still love it.