Leo Durocher was one of baseball's fieriest managers and also one of its most successful, retiring as the fifth-winningest manager. Although Durocher is remembered mainly as a skipper, he began his career as an All-Star infielder. This top list of Leo's greatest baseball card appearances encompasses both Durocher's playing and managing days.
Durocher began his long professional career with the New York Yankees in 1925 as a player and won his first of four career World Series titles with one of the famous Murderers' Row Yankees teams in 1928. Durocher played mostly as a shortstop and made three All-Star teams mainly due to his defensive skills while with the St. Louis Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers.
Although he was never known for his offensive ability, he more than made up for it with his powerful mouth. He was given the nickname "Leo the Lip" for frequently getting into arguments with managers and team executives. As a manager, he became the model for blustery types like Earl Weaver and Lou Piniella who often fought with umpires and were frequently ejected.
Durocher also took part in several important events in baseball history as a manger. He led the Dodgers and the famous "Dem Bums" team to their first National League pennant in two decades. As the manager of the New York Giants, he was on hand for Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" that gave the team the pennant.
Outside of the player cards covered below, you can also find Durocher in the 1936 Goudey set as a St. Louis Cardinal and in 1941 Double Play from his time with the Dodgers. The Goudey card interestingly has him referred to as "Speedy" Durocher which was a nickname that never quite caught on.
His final managing job in the majors was with the Houston Astros and collectors can find the last manager card for Durocher in 1973 Topps. Three years later, Leo managed in Japan for the Taiheiyo Club Lions but, unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any trading cards honoring that year of service.
Durocher's cardboard legacy as a player and manager stretches from 1933 to 1973. Over those 40 years, he has many notable and interesting baseball cards. In building this list, value and scarcity was balanced with the desire to create a collection that represents all aspects from Durocher's playing and managerial career.
Top 10 Leo Durocher Baseball Cards
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A truly oddball inclusion in the legendary black-bordered 1971 Topps set was the Chicago Cubs team card that prominently features Durocher immediately above the Cubs logo. Every other team card in the set was a large group photo but the Cubs got the royal treatment with each player's head shot cropped around the Cubs logo.
The most accessible cards from Durocher's managerial career are from his days with the Chicago Cubs and his first card with the team can be found in 1967 Topps. Durocher managed the team for six full seasons before being fired in the middle of the 1972 season. He was then hired by the Astros just a few weeks later.
Durocher's 1953 Bowman card features him smiling from the dugout and the following season he would be all smiles again as the Giants would win the 1954 World Series. Besides being the first full-color photographs included on Bowman cards, the 1953 set also had the largest card dimensions of any Bowman set up to that point. This was probably a response to the popular 1952 Topps set that had larger dimensions than Topps' first set.
7. 1950 Bowman Leo Durocher #220
Leo Durocher is most associated with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994 as a Dodger, after all. And so it was shocking when the Dodgers allowed him to leave the team and sign with the rival New York Giants. His 1950 Bowman card is nearly identical to the 1951 Bowman card with it being slightly re-colored and having a nameplate added.
Durocher's Batter Up card is a great action photo of him fully extending to reach a line drive. It is a remarkable card that would probably rank higher on the list if more unfolded or undamaged cards were available for collectors to purchase. Durocher was a member of the Cardinals for five seasons and was part of the "Gashouse Gang" team that won the 1934 World Series.
Durocher passed away in 1991 and so there are no certified autographs from Topps or Upper Deck for collectors to find. However, there are many jersey relics available that mainly feature memorabilia from his managerial days. An early example features New York Giants relics found in 2001 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts. Cubs fans can find relics in 2014 Panini Immaculate Collection and Durocher Dodgers relics can be pulled from 2014 Panini Classics.
The Exhibits Four-On-One series of photo cards oftentimes had a rotating series of players featured from year to year and Durocher was lucky enough to be featured on the Yankees card that also had Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Durocher was an interesting inclusion as his career total of 24 home runs could easily be doubled in a single season by both Ruth and Gehrig.
On the back of Durocher's 1939 Play Ball card he is described as a "playing manager," a dual role he would continue until officially retiring as a player in 1945. As manager, he would get the Dodgers back to the World Series in 1941.
The most valuable Leo Durocher card as a manager can be found during his New York Giants days in the iconic 1952 Topps set. His card was just barely included in the high-numbered series, which began at card #311 on the checklist, and it receives the corresponding bump in value.
While many of the cards in the 1933 and 1934 Goudey sets have identical painted photographs shared with both sets, the image of Durocher is similar at first glance but they are a little different upon closer inspection. Of course, the 1934 set also adds Lou Gehrig's image and some background graphics to the card which results in Durocher's second-year card actually outpacing the value of his rookie card at auction for highly-graded copies.