Apr 12, 2015

The Battle for the Soul of 1955

Imagine being a child 60 years ago. Life could have been good in the summertime. Every day morning, you'd wake up, have a breakfast of champions, go to the general store for some candy and cards on the 5 cent weekly allowance, and then flip and trade and go tire rolling or bike riding until the sun went down.

 It's how I picture it anyway.....in sepia tones with a shadow gradient.

But the best part of being a child in 1955, is that there were two card companies going all out to clamor for attention.  Bowman had staked its claim as the futuristic set in 1955 with the well-known color TV design while Topps had decided to go back to the future by turning its 1954 set 90 degrees to a horizontal presentation.

The reason why there was a choice was because players signed exclusives with each of the companies, not creating true parity in competition.  Design is only one part of the collecting experience; player collection is the other....you want to get the players you want...especially that fit your collection.

For Phillies fans and collectors, there were 19 cards in the 1955 Bowman set, including team favorites and stars, Del Ennis, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, and Willie Jones.

By contrast, the 1955 team set had 10 cards with very little overlap.  Instead, the collectors had to be content with non-stars and less favorites such as:
Ted Kazanski: a 20 year old back-up infielder.
Thornton Kipper: a 25 year old relief pitcher with a total of 31 games pitched.
Danny Schell: a 26 year old pinch hitter extraordinaire.

Probably the best known name on the Phillies Topps checklist was Bob Miller, so what is a team collector to do?  I guess the only option really was to convert to a Topps rookie collector and try for a Clemente and Koufax.....how tragic.

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