Presented By
Fans hold Topps Baseball same day baseball cards during the T-Mobile Major League Baseball All-Star FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Friday, July 11, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Taylor Baucom—MLB Photos via Getty Images

Sy Berger, who brought about the modern baseball trading card, thus creating an American cultural past-time and a flashpoint for childhood nostalgia, died on Sunday at his home in Rockville Centre, New York. He was 91.

The Lower East Side-born inventor is credited with turning the Brooklyn-based Topps company into the biggest name in the baseball card business, after introducing the first Topps cards in 1951, the New York Times reports.

Though baseball cards date to the 1800s, Berger was responsible for turning them into the version we know today: big, colorful, and imbued with meaning. The Times reports that Berger also collected cards as a kid and worshipped Wally Berger (no relation), of the Boston Braves, as a boyhood hero.


More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Elizabeth Barber at

You May Also Like