Dem Bums reached the World Series regularly in the 40s and 50s, six times in all. Unfortunately, New York's pinstripes beat them back to Brooklyn with regularity. Prior to 1955, hometown fans fixated on flubs like 1941's ball-in-the-dirt, a bobble that handed the Yanks a 3-to-1 series lead. This card shows catcher Mickey Owen chasing the errant curve ball as Tommy Heinrich starts a sprint to first.
Gum Inc (as Bowman), Philadelphia Chewing Gum (as Swell), and Topps Gum (as itself) all produced their first post-WWII sets in 1948.
- 1948 Bowman looked a lot like Gum Inc's predecessor, 1939 Play Ball
- Swell's "Sport Thrills" play out like mini-cinema news reels, 20 cards in all
- Topps' tiny "Magic Photos" proved humble origins for a 60-year (and growing) legacy
Swell's punchy writing stands apart from Bowman's and Topps' limited efforts. I wish they'd make more sets with lusty swings and slashing doubles! (Check the set gallery at Virtual Card Collection.)
Value: Action shots like #5 cost around $10 in low or mid-grade. Individual players run a few times more and nice stars up to $100.
Fakes / Reprints: No one's officially reprinted Swell cards, but players like Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, and Lou Gehrig cost enough that you should be wary of deals too good to be true.