Card of the Day: 2020 Topps 206 Roberto Clemente

This is part three of our special Roberto Clemente morning, celebrating #21 on the 21st of the month. I’ve added an extra Card of the Day this week because this card is relevant right now.

Topps has just released the 2020 206 set, a spin-off of the famous T206 set that was put out during the 1909-11 time period and included the famous Honus Wagner card. The Pittsburgh Pirates are represented in the 50-card first series by just one player, but it’s quite a nice looking card. Card #39 in the set is Roberto Clemente.

These cards will be released in five different series by Topps throughout the year. They have only released the first series checklist, so while I’m sure there will be more Pirates players in the full set, we don’t know who they will be yet. For right now, the only Pirates player you could get in a box of cards is Clemente.

This is the third time that Topps has paid tribute to the T206 set. The first time was in 2002, when they also gave away actual 1909-11 T206 cards, including a Honus Wagner. They had a large dealer who specialized in pre-war cards buy up thousands of T206 cards, put them in a fancy little plastic case, then Topps threw them in random packs. The Pirates had a total of 18 cards in the 2002 set, including three versions of the famous Wagner card, another Wagner card showing him during his coaching days, plus a Clemente card.

Topps came back with the set in 2010 and once again they had a Wagner card in the set, but there was no Clemente. He was replaced by Willie Stargell that year. The Pirates base set had an early Andrew McCutchen card, a Daniel McCutchen card (plus an autograph version) and an Aki Iwamura, which I’m sure is at the top of every Pirates collector’s prized card list.

Now ten years later, Topps has brought back the 206 set design for a third time. The originals are very popular cards to this day, so this set has an appeal to new and old collectors, and the Clemente card shown below is sure to be a popular one.

Here’s the front of the card.

Here’s an example of the back of the card

If you were to buy packs, the most likely back you would get would be the Piedmont version. The original T206 cards showed different tobacco brand ads on the back, with Piedmont being the most common. Just like with the original cards, the Sweet Caporal back in the 2020 set is relatively easy, but tougher to find than the Piedmont version. They also have Sovereign, Polar Bear, Old Mill, Cycle, American Beauty and Ty Cobb brand backs. Those get tougher as you got along, with Sovereign being fairly easy and Ty Cobb being nearly impossible.

Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:

1913 T200 Fatima team card

2020 Topps Living Set Josh Bell

2020 Roberto Clemente Topps Throwback

1982 Topps Tim Foli

1887 N172 Old Judge Art Whitney and Dog

1973 Topps Willie Stargell

1981 Topps Pirates Future Stars

1936 R312 Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan

1959 Topps Buc Hill Aces

1982 Donruss Harvey Haddix

1991 Upper Deck Jose Lind

1982 Topps Traded Pirates set

1974 Topps Bob Johnson

1909 E90 Dots Miller

2005 Bowman Heritage Andrew McCutchen

1961 Topps Gino Cimoli World Series Highlights

1969 Topps Richie Hebner/Al Oliver

1920 W516 Wilbur Cooper

1887 N172 Sam Barkley (guest submission)

1976 Topps Pie Traynor

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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