1951 Bowman Baseball Cards
Baseball Card Appraisal Service
In 1951, The Bowman Gum Company of
Philadelphia was the largest sports card producer in America. In 1950,
they were the only company to release a national baseball card set. The 1950 Bowman baseball card set totaled 252 cards
and each card measured 2 1/16" by 2 1/2", the same size as their 144 card football set.
The front of the cards featured hand-painted color reproductions of actual B&W photographs.
In 1951, Topps would enter the the baseball card competition with their 52 card blue back, 52 card red back
playing card game format. The 1951 Topps Baseball Game Card Set.
That same year, Topps also offered
Connie Mack's All Time All Stars, Major League All Stars and Team Cards sets.
Video: 1951 New York Yankees Spring Training with Mantle Rookie.
For 1951, George Moll, Bowman's art director, used this same formula but increased the size of the cards to
2-1/16" by 3-1/8".
Many of the player images used in the 1950 set were reused for the 1951 set as seen in the Ralph Branca and Bobby Thompson cards.
Video: "The Shot Heard Around The World", 1951 Dodgers-Giants Playoff Game.
Bowman also increased the final set total to 324 cards (39 using the horizontal format). Although this was 16 cards short of the 340 cards
they had originally planned, it still amounted to the largest set of gum cards ever produced to that time.
That distinction would be short lived, as the very next year Topps would introduce their own 407 card
1952 Topps Baseball Card Set.
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Baseball Cards were
believed to have been printed in seven series. As the previous year, the
be contracted to the Zabel Brothers Co., Inc., at 5th and Columbia Avenues in Philadelphia. The first series (1-36) came
out about mid-April of 1951. It is just by chance that Bowman decided to make a rookie pitcher who would later
become one of the New York Yankees all time greats as their #1 card, Whitey Ford. The Ford card would be followed by
his real life battery mate for many years to come, Yogi Berra, card #2. Around the end of April, the 2nd series (37-72) made
its debut followed by the 3rd series (73-108) around the middle of May. The 4th series (109-180) came out at the end of May
and differed from the previous 3 series in that it contained 72 cards instead of 36. The 5th series (181-216) and
6th series (217-252) were 36 card issued series and came out in June about 2 weeks apart. The final 7th series (253-324) was
the second and last 72 card issue series. It appears to have come out around the second or third week of July. To view
Pete D'Luhosch's excellent article on the 1951 Bowman printing dates, click here.
(Double Prints of 6th Series Cards)
Versions of Blackjack
Since Bowman at this time was the "King of the Hill" in sports card manufacturing,
they had contracts with almost all of the stars of baseball world. It is no wonder then that 2 of the biggest stars would
appear in their rookie year on a Bowman card in 1951, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.
Mantle appeared on card #253 and Mays appeared on card #305.
Other rookies to appear in the 1951 Bowman Baseball Card set
Whitey Ford (card#1), Gus Bell (card#40), Ray Boone (card#54), Monte Irvin (card#198 ), Joe Garagiola (card#122 ),
Sal Maglie (card#127), Billy Pierce (card#196), Vern Law (card#203),Nellie Fox (card#232 ), Jackie Jensen (card#254 ),
Carl Erskine (card#260 ), Jim Piersall (card#306 ), Smoky Burgess (card#317), and Joe Adcock (card#323 ).
Two Yankee rookies not appearing in the set: Billy Martin and 1951 Rookie of the Year Gil McDougald.
The set was filled with veteran stars of the period, including a
swinging from the heels Ted Williams on card#165 .
Other major stars included Yogi Berra (card# 2), Robin Roberts (card#3), Phil Rizzuto (card#26), Bob Feller (card#30),
Roy Campanella (card#31 ), Duke Snider (card#32 ), Pee Wee Reese (card#80), and Warren Spahn (card#134 ).
Although he appeared in the
1951 Berk Ross card set, one
of the biggest stars in baseball did not appear in the
1951 Bowman Baseball Card set, Joe DiMaggio.
3 other major stars not included in the 1951 Bowman Baseball Card set:
Stan Musial, Ralph Kiner & Jackie Robinson.
Stan Musial did appeared in the
1951 Wheaties box cards along with Ted
Williams and Bob Feller.
Ralph Kiner appeared in the initial 1951 Topps Baseball Card Set.
How did your 1951
favorite player do in the 1951
All Star Game?
Click on the 1951 All Star Game logo to find out.
Video: Highlights of the 1951 ML Baseball All Star Game.
Click on Wrapper Logo to start viewing
1951 Bowman Baseball Card set.
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