After 5+ seasons in the minors, a one-game (complete game win) token appearance in 1950, a stint in the military, and a few more minor league seasons, Aber made the bigs as a regular in 1953. He was traded to the Tigers that June and was a spot starter/reliever for a couple of seasons before becoming a bullpen guy for good. This 1957 Topps card with him at Yankee Stadium represents his final big league season.
It's a pretty standard card for this set, posed action shot with Aber in the old Tigers' road jersey they wore for decades until the went to the plainer version about 1960. But you flip the card over and...
...check out the back of Aber's card. In the stat section his years spent serving Uncle Sam are duly noted but the entry says In U.S. Army.
I have never noticed that previously from Topps. The cards from the 50s (1957 was the first to feature year-by-year career stats) through the 60s that made mention of military time always had In Military Service. I'd never noticed a specific branch mentioned.
I grabbed a handful of '57s and flipped through them hoping to see if Aber's card was the norm. Did Topps list the branch for every player with a military stretch? I was hoping to find someone who had served In U. S. Navy or maybe the U. S. Marines. I hit the jackpot.
First of all, there are plenty of cards on which a player is credited with a generic In Military Service with Whitey Ford, Preston Ward, and Vern Law being among them.
Clicking the card backs make the service lines easier to see.
And a few cards got minor variations...
Nellie Fox and Tommy Byrne (among others) got the full In United States Military Service treatment. Al Cicotte was graced with two separate notations. I need to look into his story.
Ron Northey had a military year and a DL year. (OK, I'm digging here, I admit)
Sal Maglie had a couple of years shaved out of his stats for a completely different reason, and I love that Topps did this:
They repeated this on his 1959 card, btw.
And then I found what I was looking for...a few more Army vets! Jim Lemon had a season line listed just as Aber had...In U.S. Army. So it wasn't a one-time thing.
But there was also a variation of that. Warren Spahn and Early Wynn, a pair of Hall of Fame pitchers, got their army service year(s) spelled out.
Eddie Miksis got an In U.S. Navy shoutout....
Further digging yielded more gems:
Bob Kennedy in the Marine Corps... (and note the weirdly aligned second line of text in his bio. Something isn't right)
Hank Sauer's card shows his time in the U. S Coast Guard...
But the best of the bunch was this one:
Yup, Teddy Ballgame gets his WWII service credited as being In U. S. Naval Aviation. How cool is that? Interestingly there is no notation for his Korean War service time due to his actually getting some playing time at the beginning of 1952 and late in 1953.
That covers the different notations among the cards I have as I build the '57 set. As I mentioned this is the first set that had full career yearly stats. They went away in 1958 and returned in 1959. A quick flip thru my '59 binder shows only the standard In Military Service, no branch-specific credits.
Once I finish off the set I'll go thru and do a complete count. I love these little card 'quirks'.