October 2009 Auction
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 10/7/2009
There are relatively few Topps cards from the Golden Age of baseball and American culture that excite the senses as thoroughly as a MINT example of Sandy Koufax's celebrated 1957 issue. Pictured in just the third year of his too-brief career, and several years before his famous five consecutive seasons of dominance (1962-65) that are unmatched in the history of the game, the intimate image shows a gleeful 21 year-old brandishing a smile that would soon become just as famous as his over-the-top, four-seam fastball, a pitch that was said to move at least two to three times before rising out of the batter's reach as it crossed the plate. At both ends of his 12-season career, Sandy was notorious for tipping his pitches, but what did it matter? The great Willie Mays once remarked, for example, that he "knew every pitch [Sandy] was going to throw and still couldn't hit him." The youngest player ever enshrined in the Hall of Fame, Koufax also enjoys international fame as one of the greatest Jewish athletes of all time. Proudly offered in this lot is just the 10th example of Sandy's '57 appearance to ever grade MINT 9 from well over 1,600 total submissions to both SGC and PSA combined. A Pop 7 with 0 higher at PSA, and a Pop 3 with 0 higher at SGC, it is universally regarded among the single scarcest key '50s Topps issues to encounter in MINT condition. Even the '52 Topps Mantle, by comparison, has yielded 3 world-class examples in excess of the MINT 9 category. But not the '57 Koufax! So scarce is this masterpiece Topps relic that we can't even remember the last time we saw a comparable specimen come to market. VintageCardPrices.com, however, reports that Mastro Auctions hawked one back in '07, which may or may not be true, and that Andy Madec sold one the previous year for a staggering price tag of near $80,000. While no prices have ever been reported for any of the three SGC 96 MINT 9 examples in existence, we can say with absolute confidence that the offered specimen is as nice as, if not nicer than, any of the few PSA MINT 9 examples we've been privileged to examine over the last several years in private collections. The corners are undeniably MINT, with each succinct apex appearing sharper than the last. The edges, likewise, are sufficiently sharp enough for the opined grade, with the side edges showing some tolerable rough-cuts, one of the only readily apparent non-GEM features throughout. The self-evident centering reveals a minuscule preference for the bottom and left edges but is very obviously still MINT, while the image as well as the entire obverse surface boast nothing but strong MINT+ qualities in every conceivable category. The registration is so meticulously precise that we can easily perceive the individual hairs of Sandy's characteristic bushy eyebrows as well as his five o'clock shadow and even the glimmer of skin oil on the tip of his nose. The colors on both surfaces are nothing short of miraculous, with a surprisingly deep application of scarlet (or torch) red on both the front and back. Infamously plagued by both stray print as well as "snow," the offered example shows no real concern with either. Characteristic of the '57 issue, it does show some microscopic flecks of blue and red throughout, most of which can be found on every single example produced, but none of which can even be noticed when held at arm's length. An even application of factory fresh gloss seals the deal on the MINT evaluation from SGC, making for one the single finest '57 Topps Koufax examples you may ever have the opportunity to acquire for the rest of your card collecting days. Truly hypnotic in all its florid brilliance and universally distinguished by an utterly bewildering scarcity in top grades, we are pleased to recommend this masterpiece Koufax with unequivocal and wholehearted sincerity.
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