maandag 10 juni 2013

Collecting the Dodgers: Baseball Cards

One of baseball’s surest ‘can’t catch ‘em all’ collections is baseball cards. Nowadays all kinds of card sets from numerous brands flood the market. Some of them are okay, some of them really awesome with autographs, pieces of game used bats or even pieces of jerseys. But baseball cards have been around for nearly as long as the game itself. You got them with cigarettes, candy, gum or even meat! Since baseball cards are small and flat they're great to collect, but where to begin and where to end?
First of all I only wanted older Dodgers cards, so that made it easier, but not a whole lot. Then I decided I wanted a set from one brand and I always had a weak spot for Bowman. I think it’s the name… and I like gum. The Bowman card series ran from 1939 to 1941 (Play Ball sets) and from 1948-1955. In 1956 Topps bought out Bowman. That narrowed it down considerably! Still, if I wanted to collect only Dodger players from 1948 to 1955, I’d be spending lots of time and money on Ebay. One Dodger player then! I decided to go with Roy Campanella only. Campy has been one of my favorite Dodgers ever, so the choice wasn’t very hard. The fun in collecting baseball cards is that everybody can do it. There are loose cards that don’t cost a lot and even graded cards won’t cost you an arm and a leg when you buy lower graded ones.
Now I knew what I wanted: Campanella Bowman cards and since his rookie card came out in 1949 there would only be seven cards to collect. That seemed to me as a pretty narrowed down set. I got lucky and scored my first three cards in one deal. The 1950, 1952 and 1953 cards. All graded by PSA and all in EX-MT (which is a 6 in grades) condition. I'll talk about the cards later on.
Since all the cards were PSA graded I decided on another limiting factor. I would get this set complete with only PSA cards in EX-MT condition or higher. I visited the PSA site and listed my cards. 'Would you like to begin a set?' was one of the questions that popped up. Sure, I thought. I clicked on a set option that said: Campanella Basic Set. Yes, the Bowman cards were there but... so were four Topps cards. This was a point where I could easily have decided to go over my limit and collect the set including the cards by Topps, I did not. I was stong! Just the Bowman's!
I got me a 1954 Campy in the next deal and right about that time I realized I had kind of broken one of my rules: 'collect what you think is worthy to collect'. Sure, I think these cards are worth it, but some of them just aren't great visually.
A few weeks later I saw a Campanella rookie card (the Bowman card is the only recognized rookie card of the legendary Brooklyn Dodger catcher) for way to much money, but I decided to do a 'best offer' and to my amazement got the card. It's a GAI rated card and I'm not too sure about GAI so at the time I write this it's on it's way to PSA for a crossover. I gave them carte blanche so I might get a lower rated card back, but I got a pretty good feeling about it. The corners are crisp, the image is pretty much centered. So, fingers crossed.
Now, about the images... I still have to get the '51 and '55 card, but I know what they look like. I like the simplicity of the rookie card. Campy looks a bit like 'I made it to the bigs'. There is no 'B' on his cap. Just plain old (or young, at that time) Campanella. The 1950 card is perhaps my favorite one. You see the team name on his jersey and he smiles. The only other card in this series he smiles on is the last one from 1955.
In 1951 they went with an action shot. I don't think the guy on the card looks like Campanella, but this time his name is on the front of the card, so I think it's him after all. It's a bit of a sad card. Look in the background... there is only one spectator.

The 1952 card is Campy at bat, he looks very serious and to my surprise, looks like Babe Ruth on his 1933 Goudey card. Maybe every batter looks like that after a hit (or was it a miss?).
The 1953 card is a photograph, a serious looking Campy, again. I like the size of the card.
The 1954 is my least favorite, it's almost like he's caught and is now posing for a police photo.
The last Bowman card is the 1955 one. Campy looks happy, like he knows he's gonna win the World Series, finally! I like the image but the tv border is something I could do without.
All in all a very diverse set, in size and in depiction.

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