Sy Berger was the father of the modern day baseball card. His vision, along with the creativity of Woody Gellman, helped transform pieces of cardboard into miniature works of art. His impact and importance to the hobby are second to no one.
His early days at Topps are the thing of urban legend. From negotiating with every individual baseball player to use their image, to dumping countless, unsold 1952 Topps Baseball cases into the Atlantic Ocean, his stories are at the root of the hobby we know today.
“The Topps family is very saddened by the loss of one of its most cherished members: Sy Berger. 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.”
Longtime friend and colleague, the “Say Hey Kid” himself, Willie Mays, had this to say when asked about his thoughts on Berger’s passing, “What can I say about Sy Berger? He was my long-time friend. He helped me from my first days in the majors. I never could have made it without him. He always knew the right thing to say or the right thing to do. We worked together. We laughed together. We grew up together. What I can say to you is, ‘He was my friend.’ What I would say to him is, ‘So long old pal.'”
For more information about Sy Berger and his impact on the hobby, read his NY Times obituary.