Topps bubble gum icon Sy Berger, 91, passes away

Posted on 14th December 2014 by hockeymedia in Cards,The Want List,Tribute

NHLSy Berger, the man who helped popularise baseball cards in the 1950s and beyond, has passed away. The so-called “grandfather” of the hobby was 91 years old.

Mr. Berger was behind the post-War Topps baseball cards produced in Brooklyn, NY, USA, sold in penny packs with a stick of gum. By 1963, his card designs would be shared with bubble gum companies in Canada (O-Pee-Chee), the United Kingdom (A. & B.C.) and Australia (Scanlen’s) for different sport series.

Between the four companies, kids could collect pictures of their favourite athletes from the worlds of baseball, basketball, ice hockey and four different forms of football (football soccer, football American rules, Canadian rules, and Australian rules).

While other companies like Bowman (USA), Leaf (USA) and Parkhurst (Canada) were producing bubble gum cards in the same era, it was the Topps Company that won out as the hobby favourite. The Topps Company also established the modern picture card size in 1957, the now standard 2.5″ x 3.5″ (63.5 mm x 88.9 mm) size which fits neatly in your hand. That size was featured in Canada for the first time with the 1957-58 O-Pee-Chee/Topps hockey card set.

Mr. Berger remained with the Topps company until the late 1990s, then served as a consultant to Topps and its popular pastime in his retirement.

“The Topps family is very saddened by the loss of one of its most cherished members: Sy Berger,” wrote the Topps Company. “His contributions to the Company as well as major professional sports and entertainment properties have been monumental to say the least. Thank you Sy! You have and will continue to put smiles on the faces of children, collectors and fans for generations. Topps extends its heartfelt condolences to the Berger family.”

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