Thursday, April 14, 2011

1954 Plankinton Meats Baseball #5, Bobby Thomson

Every now and then, baseball cards return to the floating head, that single design element that's equal parts "spotlight" and "creepy." Topps league leader cards use it off-and-on since their debut in the 1960s.

1962 Topps #55

Chicago Cubs team cards went bodiless for most of the 1970s.

1971 Topps #502, no room for a team name!

Magazines and newspapers no doubt used close-cropped head shots well before then, but today's #5--actually a folded booklet--predates anything I've seen on regular cards.

Wisconsin-based Plankinton Meats printed this 12-player series to honor the Braves' new home in Milwaukee and put real design work into the 11" x 17" finished product. Each poster shows a dozen highlight photos with text for "miscellaneous baseball tips." (Bobby's include "throwing from left field," pull hitting," and--my favorite--"fans are important.")

Bobby broke his ankle during spring training in 1954, so gave way to a rookie outfielder named Hank Aaron, who went on to play 122 games and hit his first 13 MLB homers. Aaron shifted to right in 1955, returning Thomson to left, a lineup Milwaukee kept through mid-1957.

Value: I recently came in second on eBay for a mid-grade booklet at $70, so that's a starting point. As of this writing, another eBay seller lists it for $220 Buy-It-Now, so let's call its price "variable."

Fakes / reprints: It'd be tough to fake something that large, but might happen for something so rare. (Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews are probably the only guys valuable enough to try.)


night owl said...

I don't understand the "creepy" perception that people get with these cards.

Whimsical? Yup. Fun? Yup. Goofy? Yup. Creepy? No. I don't think that was ever the intent.

Matthew Glidden said...

Not normally, true. This one got me because it's a meat packing company offering up just the head. :-)