I just love the Dock Ellis rookie card. The photographer positioned his subject perfectly for this image: Ellis faces the camera directly with his throwing arm reaching towards the viewer—the pitcher’s almighty hand highlighted in a kind of extreme foreground’s foreground. The two-dimensional becomes almost three-dimensional. It’s really the only card of its kind in the 1969 Topps set. The somewhat similar Nolan Ryan, Bob Moose, & Barry Moore cards in that set come close, but they all fall just a little short of the Ellis effect. Clearly, the same photographer worked on many of these (or different photographers were contracted with similar Topps Photography 101 training). But Dock himself does some nice work here, too; he seems gleefully in the moment—and more so than most other players appear to be on photo day. Jocular, he “chews the scenery” and breaks the fourth wall. Of course this isn’t theatre or film, but baseball does have its share of drama.
[Silly Nolan: he forgot to throw (or hide) the ball.]
In any case, the 1969 Topps Ellis card also made me wonder about other vintage cards of pitchers (or hitters) that achieve this distinct pop-out look. I’m sure there must be plenty of great examples scattered throughout the bins, boxes, & binders of other cardboard curators. For now, here are some absolutely pristine specimens that I managed to find.
Stop, Byron! You only just won that nice little trophy! Now you’re trying to destroy it?!
Here’s some Moore of Barry (yuck, yuck).