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According to the Beckett database, there have been nearly 3.8 million baseball cards produced over the last 50 years.

That’s not a total number of cards printed – nobody knows that with any certainty – but it is the number of cards created, and that’s a lot. Yet among those millions stand 10 cards that have helped shape collecting in some way over the last half-century.

The task of identifying those 10 was more difficult than you may think. I asked three of my colleagues – Brian Fleischer, Ryan Cracknell and Sam Zimmer – for their input and each offered a thoughtful list of possibilities. Over the course of multiple conversations and e-mails, we ultimately narrowed the field to the 10 cards highlighted in this issue. We then gave them a ranking. Again, easier said than done.

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