Sy Berger, 91, the father of the modern baseball trading card, who designed the famed Topps versions in the 1950s, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Rockville Centre, N.Y.

Using scissors and cardboard at his kitchen table, Mr. Berger played around with ideas for trading cards until he struck upon a design that endured for decades: a card with team logos and simulated player autographs on the front and bios and stats on the back.

The joy of his job, he often said, was meeting and socializing with the players while getting their authorization for Topps to use their names and pictures on its baseball cards. Willie Mays was a close friend.

In 1988, Mr. Berger was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He also earned his own card, part of the 2004 Topps series called All-Time Fan Favorites. - Inquirer wire services