Friday, February 11, 2011

'51 Bowmans, Part I: "Let's go back..."

...back to 1951! Nope, not Topps, anniversary be damned, but Bowman instead. Way back in the late '80s, I got a lot of 24 '51 Bowman cards for $20 or something at my local (I told you I've been going there a while...), and while I come across them often in my boxes, with the way I have things filed at the moment, I hadn't gotten around to scanning any of them until earlier in the week, which is just about criminal.

This card of Al Rosen is probably my favorite of the bunch. It's a beautiful painting that has an even more classic, "older" feel than its 60 years of age, and Al was also one hell of a ballplayer, not to mention a pretty successful baseball executive later on in life.

Mickey Owen is a rough name for longtime Dodger fans to hear, but despite that passed ball he's infamous for, he enjoyed a long, distinguished career as a ballplayer with 4 straight All-Star appearances, served in the military at the end of World War II, was a sheriff for 16 years and founded a pretty famous baseball school that I remember advertising in Baseball Digest for many years.

This card of Les Moss is my only playing-era card of a St. Louis Brown so far. Moss was a long-time backup catcher for the Browns, and after he retired as a player, he had an incredibly long career as a coach, scout, and on two brief occasions, a manager. In 1979, Les' first and only stint as a full manager in the bigs (he was an interim manager for the White Sox in '68), he got a quick hook not because of his club's performance (they were 27-26 at the time), but because the Tigers decided to hire some clown named Sparky. Heck of a way to treat a guy who helped develop Alan Trammell, Jack Morris, Lance Parrish, Mark Fidrych, Steve Kemp, Jason Thompson, Tom Brookens, Dave Rozema and Dan Petry, right? Yep, when he managed the Montgomery Rebels and Evansville Triplets, he managed every one of those players for a spell.

I don't have very much in the way of New York Giants, either (playing-era cards of anyone from a team that moved are kind of awesome), so this Bill Rigney card is definitely nice to have. Bill had a 8 season career as a player, and a much longer one as a manager, running the Giants, Angels (for their first 9 years) and Twins over a 17 year stretch, then coming back for one final year with the Giants in '76.

Until kind of recently, I had no idea that Billy Goodman was as good of a player as he was. Not being that familiar with pre-Yaz Red Sox history that didn't involve some guy named Ted or some other guy who called himself "Babe", it had just never come up.

Clyde Vollmer seems like a bit more of a journeyman at first glance, especially if you're used to seeing the gaudy power numbers of the modern era, but he definitely had his moments, including hitting a the first pitch he saw in the bigs for a home run, a three homer game, and for the "Everybody's Got A Record" files, Vollmer's got two: he's the only Major League player ever to be bat 8 times in 8 innings, and he's also got the latest grand slam on record in a Major League game (in the 16th inning of this game, two days after his 3 HR one). Clyde enlisted in the Army shortly after his debut in the bigs, and fought in World War II for 3 years, like more than a few ballplayers of his generation. Some of this stuff in his history kinda makes you wonder how his career might have been different, had the war not happened.

I've got 18 more of these, so I'll be posting them a half-dozen at a time until they're all up. Some of them may end up being available for trade, though the stuff in this post is all keeper stuff unless you guys totally wow me.

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