Tugboat to Hell

I found this in an old USA Today piece from 2001. . . . I’ve heard of lost cardboard treasures before (i.e. the bicycle spokes, mom dumping the collection in the trash, warehouse fires, etc.), but this is beyond belief. Told by Sy Berger, who helped design the early Topps baseball cards, this brief episode offers further insight into the scarcity of some of the 1952 Topps cards:

Berger dramatically improved the design for ’52 and it sold so well, Topps decided to produce a second series. “By the time it came out, it was World Series time. We learned that kids don’t buy baseball cards at World Series time because football is starting,” Berger told the Associated Press. . . . “We had a lot of cards left over, packed in boxes in our warehouse.” Berger hired a garbage boat, loaded the cards and rode with them as a tugboat pulled them off the New Jersey shore. In a flash, the cards were dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. “I don’t know how many cards there were, but it was enough to make you a millionaire,” he said. “We didn’t know.”

Oh, my sweet 1952 Topps lament. Where have all the card men sunk–what fish food have you become?

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