#CardCorner: 1971 Topps Richie Scheinblum
By his own admission, Richie Scheinblum appears as if he has just woken up at the very moment his baseball card photograph is being taken. “On two of my cards, I look like I just got out of bed and someone snapped [a picture],” Scheinblum said during a visit to Cooperstown back in 2004. Clearly, one of those cards is this one; it is part of Topps’ famed 1971 black-bordered set, which portrays him as a member of the Washington Senators, even though he is clearly wearing the jersey of the Cleveland Indians. Thanks to the capless pose seen here, Topps has created the illusion that Scheinblum is a full-fledged Senator.
With his hair out of place and his face a bit puffy, Scheinblum doesn’t look his best here, but he still has fond memories of tracking his Topps cards. It was a yearly ritual that actually helped him determine whether he was going to make his team’s Opening Day roster. “It was the most fun [to see myself on a card]. But at the time, very nerve-wracking. A very good friend of mine named Sy Berger, who was with Topps Bubble Gum, would walk into the locker room, and all the fringe players, including myself, would wait for Sy to come back. He’d wink at me, so I knew I’d made the team. Topps knew who actually was going to make the 25-man roster before anybody else did. So guys would go by and they’d tug on Sy’s shirt and say, ‘Sy, did I make it this year? Are you doing a card for me?’ It was a very unique situation.”
Known as a free spirit during his playing days, Scheinblum visited the Hall of Fame in August of 2004 as part of a Jewish Baseball Conference at the Museum. The event was attended by a number of Jewish players, including Ron Blomberg (the first designated hitter), Mike Epstein (who was famously nicknamed “Superjew”), and Elliott Maddox and Bob Tufts (both converts to Judaism). Like the other players, Scheinblum was more than happy to talk about his experiences as a Jewish major leaguer.