Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Source of My Content... #97 Danny Litwhiler

As mentioned in the description of this blog, the objects of my desire are 58 year old baseball cards. Not quite antiques, (generally items must be 100 years older or more to fall into the antique category) and definitely not available from your corner grocer, these cards tend to be found in small to mid-sized numbers from various dealers across the United States.

I have spent numerous hours on the internet searching Google though possible keyword combinations and I have realized that besides the numerous eBay listings there are also some stand alone websites offering 1949 Bowman cards for sale.

So, for anyone out there interested in buying 1949 Bowman's or other vintage issues here are some of the websites other than eBay that I've come across:

The Source of My Content: (Danny Litwhiler card from Kit Young Cards)
Card #97 of a 240 card set that was issued in 1949 by the Bowman Gum Company.

This particular card has good centering, but was cut so that the image sits slightly high and right. As I am finding on almost all of the '49 Bowmans there are rough cut vertical edges on both sides. There is a minimal print flaw with slight overlapping of color shifting upwards to the top of Danny's hat. The back of the card has a small wax spot and a dark spot in the paper. 3 out of 4 corners are untouched.

This card is notable due to the fact that it hasn't toned as much as some of my other cards, the front and back colors are still vibrant with only slight age toning.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ode to the common man... #107 - Eddie Lake

Baseball, as in life has it's winners, it's losers, and the guys in the middle. For those of you unfamiliar with baseball card collecting, the term "common" is used to describe a card of low-value in comparison to the rest of the set. These cards typically depict lesser known ballplayers that for whatever reason were unable to break through to the rank of "baseball star".

Cards of common players usually cost a fraction of the star cards, (110:1 ratio in the case of my Jackie Robinson card when compared to the price I paid for Eddie Lake's card).

One of the reasons that I respect the 1949 Bowman set so much is that it contains several ballplayers who weren't considered stars at the time and had little chance of ever rising to the status of star. At the time of this card's printing Eddie Lake had already been in the major leagues for 10 years and was with his 3rd and final team, the Detroit Tigers. With a career batting average of .211 Eddie probably draws few comparisons to some of his more prolific peers of the time such as Stan Musial, Ted Williams or the aforementioned Mr. Robinson.

However, digging a bit deeper into Mr. Lake's stats we see that he, like so many of the common ilk provided an invaluable service to his teams. Perhaps the reason that Bowman included Eddie in this set was due to his ability to get on base by drawing walks from the pitcher? Looking back at his stats we see that he had 3 consecutive seasons where he drew at least 100 walks, an admirable feat considering that he wasn't thought of as a power hitting threat that opposing coaches would intentionally walk.

I like to image Eddie grinding out those walks game after game, using his skills of depth perception and ability to track ball movement to put himself on base time and time again. When you think of it, it's the common guys like him who setup RBI opportunities for their hall of fame teammates such as George Kell, (who had 59 in '49) .

Like the faceless factory workers who have a 1:110 salary ratio to their CEO's I empathize with Eddie Lake who is obviously undervalued in terms of contribution vs. perceived value.

Ode to the common man:
Card #107 of a 240 card set that was issued in 1949 by the Bowman Gum Company.

This particular card is near-perfectly centered but has rough cut vertical edges on both sides. There is a minimal print flaw with slight overlapping of color slanting towards the upper-left side of the card. The back of the card is in near mint condition and 3 out of 4 corners are untouched.

Even with it's imperfections I'm a big fan of this card, unfortunately it hasn't aged as well as my Robinson card, the colors on the front show slight yellowing due to age.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Every journey begins with a single step... #50 - Jackie Robinson

In this case my first step was the purchase of a 1949 Jackie Robinson Bowman baseball card. A 2 1/2 by 2 1/16 inch piece of cardboard that I had just plunked down a serious amount of cash for.

I had decided a few weeks prior that my life was missing something. Simply put, I needed a challenge, one that would combine my love of baseball with my interest in history and technology.

After weeks of reviewing baseball card sets from 1900-1960 I decided on collecting the 1949 Bowman Baseball set. There were many reasons for this choice, but to be honest it largely came down to a question of cost vs. coolness factor. Some of the cards from the pre-1960 sets look amazing and are exceeding rare, but have astronomical prices. While I tend to believe in a historical item's inherent value I can't see spending $100,000+ to complete a set.

For me it was a question of whether I could justify the cost necessary to put together a near-mint set while being enthralled by the cards themselves. 1949 Bowman cards have an amazing color scheme and player photo layout that evokes images of post-war, pre-space age simplicity. The backs of the cards include player information, a brief bio and statistics along with a offer for the purchaser to send in 3 card wrappers and 15 cents to get a promotional item. All of those factors makes me consider this set to be the first ever 'modern' baseball card set.

So, with a big gulp of air I pressed the online purchase button and the first step was taken!

The first step:
Card #50 of a 240 card set that was issued in 1949 by the Bowman Gum Company. This card is generally considered to be Jackie Robinson's rookie card, although the 1949 Leaf set also included a Jackie Robinson card.

I chose this particular card because it has all the things that collectors look for in a baseball card: razor sharp corners, near-perfect centering, clean print with vibrant colors and no signs of wear or tear. This card literally looks like it came out of the pack and went straight into it's plastic holder.

Hard to believe that this fragile piece of cardboard has managed to stay so fresh-looking and perfect for 58 years!