The hobby has lost one of its true pioneers, Sy Berger. The Topps card guru passed away at age 91. We’ll have much more on this icon of the industry, but first a brief summary of his life from Marty Appel. To read the last article SCD did on Sy and his family, conducted a few months ago by George Vrechek, CLICK HERE.
Here’s an interview former editor T.S. O’Connell did with Sy in 2010. CLICK HERE
We’ll have much more on Sy Berger in the days ahead.
Sy is considered the “father of the modern baseball card,” having gone to work for Topps after graduating from Bucknell and then service in World War II, and designing the first Topps set of baseball cards at his kitchen table. He came to personally sign all the Major League players over the next 40 years, establishing the cards as an important part of American culture – and for many, the gateway to America’s pastime.
His greatest friend may have been Willie Mays, but he had beloved friendships with thousands of players. Getting one’s picture on a Topps baseball card meant you had “made it.” Football followed, based on a handshake with NFL Commissioner Bert Bell – and then basketball and hockey.
Sy handled entertainment products too, including the Beatles. He flew to London to meet with Brian Epstein, spoke Yiddish to him and made a deal. There was Elvis, Michael Jackson and much more. Death came peacefully in his sleep of natural causes.
Survivors include his wife Gloria, a daughter, Maxine Berger, her husband Mark Bienstock and their daughter Amelia…..a son, Glen and his wife Jeannie, and their children Jonathan, Sarah and Maxwell, and a son Gary and his wife Tipayawan, and their son Jeremy, plus two great grandchildren. Funeral services are pending.