Buying and appraising baseball card collections for the last ten years has been great fun for a number of reasons. Obviously, making a little income is nice but the truth is that it is more of a hobby than a business. Just looking at the cards, especially the vintage variety, is always interesting for this life-long baseball fan, as every card tells a story. However, what really makes the moments shine are the nice people you meet. For every collection, there’s a unique story. Whether it’s a gentleman in his mid-70’s who still had 100 year-old tobacco cards that were originally purchased by his Uncle, to the lady who was selling her ex-husband’s cards because she no longer wanted to think about him when she saw the boxes in the garage, to the guy selling his childhood cards for cash to do some remodeling of his house.
This past weekend, I went to visit a very nice lady who had finally decided to sell her Dad’s baseball cards. He passed away 13 years ago and she could never bring herself to part with the memory. It wasn’t a particularly large or valuable group of cards, but to her, the emotional connection was priceless. She told me that her Dad had graduated High School in 1951 and these were the cards he bought during his teenage years. When she opened the little cigar box, the 125 cards from the 1948 & 1949 Bowman sets told me that her recollection was spot-on. For me, every card from this era has its own story, so let’s look at some of the players that were found in the box just from the ’48 set alone.
> ’48 Bowman
* Ralph Kiner, Pirates OF – This Hall of Fame slugger was only in his 3rd season and had hit 51 HR’s in ’47.
* Bob Feller, Indians P – After leading the AL in Wins in 1939, ’40 & ’41, he came back from 3+ years serving in World War II and led the AL in Wins again for ’46 & ’47.
* Yogi Berra, Yankees C – This is the “rookie card” of one of baseball’s most famous characters.
* Phil Rizzuto, Yankees SS – “Scooter” followed up his great career by spending decades in the broadcast booth.
* Warren Spahn, Braves P – Won 21 games in ’47 on his way to a lifetime record of 363-245.
* Stan Musial, Cardinals OF – Won the NL MVP in 1943, ’46 & ’48.
* Bobby Thomson, Giants OF – This was years prior to the famous “shot heard round the world” in the ’51 playoff game.
Almost every player in this era had a nickname…have you heard of these?
* Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell, Reds P
* “Pistol” Pete Reiser, Dodgers OF
* Allie “Superchief” Reynolds, Yankees P
* Enos “Country” Slaughter, Cardinals OF
* Tommy “The Clutch” Henrich, Yankees OF
* Emil “Dutch” Leonard, Phillies P
* “Whitey” Lockman, Giants OF
* Billy “The Bull” Johnson, Yankees 3B
* Al “Red” Schoendienst, Cardinals 2B
All this from a set that only had 48 cards!
I did buy the collection and will treat it with the proper respect but as I was leaving, it became clear that she was still very emotional about the decision. At that point, it was important that she was able to put it all in perspective. I told her that instead of being sad, she should be happy. These cards gave great satisfaction to her Dad and kept him in her heart for the last 13 years. Now, after 65+ years, they will bring joy to dozens of collectors who cherish the history of the game. She is now sharing her Dad with all those people.