The city of Burbank, California has a long history with baseball cards dating back to the early 20th century. Some of the earliest cards featuring Burbank players and teams were included in sets produced by local tobacco companies and drug stores in the 1910s and 1920s. While these early cards did not receive widespread distribution and are quite rare today, they helped spark Burbank’s deep connection to the hobby of baseball card collecting.

One of the first Burbank baseball cards was issued in 1915 featuring shortstop Johnny Sommers of the Burbank Boosters semi-pro team. Only 50 copies of this tobacco card are known to exist today. Other early 1920s Burbank cards included players from the Burbank Giants and Burbank Beavers teams. These local amateur and semi-pro clubs helped develop many talented players who would later reach the major leagues. Cards for stars like Lefty O’Doul, Fred Haney and Harry Danning who got their start in Burbank remain highly sought after by vintage baseball card collectors.

In the 1930s, the hobby of baseball card collecting exploded in popularity across the United States thanks to the wide distribution of cards in popular cigarette and gum brands. This led several major card companies to photograph and issue cards of Burbank natives who had made it to the big leagues. Stars like Dolph Camilli of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Fred Haney of the New York Giants received widespread distribution in sets from Goudey, Play Ball and other top brands of the era. Their hometown ties to Burbank added extra appeal for local collectors.


After World War 2, Burbank saw two of its native sons reach the peak of baseball success and recognition. In the late 1940s, Bobby Doerr enjoyed a Hall of Fame career as second baseman for the Boston Red Sox. Doerr’s impressive stats and World Series performances made him one of the most popular Red Sox of that era. As a result, his baseball cards from sets by Bowman, Topps and other 1950s manufacturers are still in high demand today. Around the same time, pitcher Preacher Roe was a star pitcher for the Brooklyn and Pittsburgh Pirates teams of the late 1940s and 1950s. Roe’s effective pitching played a big role in the Pirates’ 1960 World Series win. His iconic baseball cards remain widely collected.

In the 1960s, Topps secured the exclusive license to produce major league baseball cards and began issuing annual sets that included any Burbank-born players still active. This included stars like Bobby Doerr who had retired but still held collector interest. It also featured younger Burbank talents breaking into the major leagues, such as pitcher Joe Moeller who played for the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers from 1963-1969. As the 1960s rolled on, Burbank natives saw less MLB playing time but collectors kept strong interest in the hometown stars of eras past.


The 1970s was mostly quiet for Burbank baseball cards until late in the decade. In 1978, Topps issued a special “Turn Back The Clock” subset featuring retired players, including a highly sought after card of Bobby Doerr in vintage Boston Red Sox uniform. For Burbank collectors, it was a thrill to see one of their hometown heroes honored so prominently after his playing days ended. Meanwhile, a young Burbank native named Steve Sax was drafted by the LA Dodgers in 1977 and made his MLB debut in 1981. Though Sax never achieved superstar status, his rookie cards from 1981 Donruss and Topps sets remain popular with collectors today due to his Burbank background.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, no Burbank natives reached the major leagues and baseball card production began to fragment to smaller independent companies. The city’s connection to the hobby was still maintained by collectors seeking out the vintage cards of stars from earlier eras. In the late 1980s, the National Sports Collectors Convention was held in Los Angeles for the first time. Local collectors came from across Southern California, including many from Burbank who enjoyed networking with others who shared their passion for hometown heroes from baseball history.


Entering the 21st century, Burbank has seen a revival of interest in its baseball card legacy. In 2001, former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, a longtime Burbank resident, was honored with his own exclusive limited edition card by Upper Deck. Meanwhile, memorabilia and autograph signings in Burbank by vintage stars like Bobby Doerr and Ralph Branca drew large crowds. Local card shops also host annual Burbank Baseball Card Shows featuring collections focused on the city’s players from the early 1900s onwards. Today, Burbank natives still search attics and collect from online marketplaces to find any remnants of their city’s rich baseball card past. The tradition that began with those early 1900s tobacco cards continues to engage collectors with a lasting connection to America’s pastime.

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