1952 Topps Look ‘N’ See #99 – Lester B. Pearson
Being an American, I was not really knowledgeable about Lester B. Pearson, other than he had a National Hockey League trophy named after him. I was vaguely aware of his political career. Then again, I couldn’t name all of the U.S. Presidents if asked to do so (I failed that test in fourth grade, FYI). Yet, the name Lester B. Pearson was one of those names synonymous with excellence in hockey, like Art Ross or Conn Smythe. So, does he have a rookie card? Yes, he does–but it isn’t in a hockey set.
Pearson never played professional hockey, but he did excel at the collegiate level. He played for Oxford University’s Ice Hockey Club, which won the first-ever Spengler Cup invitational in 1923. Later, he would coach the University of Toronto’s varsity hockey team.
But it is politics is what Pearson is famous for. He would serve Canada as their Ambassador to the United States, as a member of Canadian Parliament, the President of the United Nations General Assembly and the Prime Minister of Canada. Plus, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his efforts in ending the Suez Crisis, and he pushed for the redesign of the Canadian flag to the one we all now know and love.
Overall, Pearson was a pretty awesome guy, so I understand why a hockey trophy had to be named after him. From 1971 to 2010, the Lester B. Pearson Award was given to the best NHL player as voted by the Players’ Association.
The Pearson Award has made several cardboard appearances over the years, including 1990-91 Pro Set (left) and 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee (right).
As for Pearson himself, he has appeared in a scant few card sets because he was not a professional athlete. He had a card in the 2008-09 Upper Deck Masterpieces set, but his very first card appears in 1952 Topps Look ‘N’ See, a set that features historical figures such as politicians, generals, explorers and inventors.
Each Look ‘N’ See card has a trivia question on the back. To read the answer, you lay a piece of clear red plastic over it to reveal hidden text. The answer to the question on Pearson’s card is “He’s the head of the Canadian delegation.”
Here, Pearson is depicted as just a humble U.N. Delegate. As far as trading cards of politicians go, this works well as a “rookie card,” as it shows him before he went on to become a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Prime Minister of Canada.
In 2010, the Lester B. Pearson Award was renamed the Ted Lindsay Award, which is a more fitting moniker. While few politicians have equaled the good he did nationally and internationally, Lindsay’s efforts and sacrifice led to the formation of the NHLPA.
The award for best player as voted by his peers should be named after Lindsay, given that what he did directly benefited NHL players. But after learning about Pearson, I wish his name was still somehow associated with hockey. Perhaps the name Lester B. Pearson will once again grace the placard of a trophy.