|Color Card #63 - Gil McDougald||Black & White Card #17 - Virgil Trucks|
Bowman, blindsided by Topps' competition in 1952, went all out to make a better set in 1953. In the opinion of most hobby experts, the 1953 Color set is Bowman's most accomplished in that it may actually be a better issue than the 1953 Topps effort. For the first time, full-color photographs were used, instead of the hand-painted pictures that had been in use for several years. This competition took its toll, however; Bowman spent so much money in production costs with the color cards that instead of a new series of cards later in the year, they put out a small set of black and white cards.
In response to Topps' larger cards, Bowman increased the physical dimensions of their cards to 2 1/2" by 3 5/8". Bowman used the most basic card design possible in its 1953 sets: just a photo of a player, a white border and a black line separating the two. There are no names, positions, team logos or facsimile autographs anywhere on the card front. Going back to its days as Gum, Inc., this was actually the fourth time the company resorted to a picture-only design, but the sharp photography really made this set stand out. This uncluttered design has made this set a classic that is still considered one of the best-looking sets ever produced.
For card backs, Bowman used a design that looked almost exactly like the ones found in the 1952 Topps set. The player's name appears prominently on the top of the card back. Beneath the player's name is some biographical info. The card number appears alongside the name and info, inside a box shaped like a baseball diamond. A write-up uses the middle of the card, and Bowman uses statistics for the first time at the bottom of the card back. An extra line below the statistics gave collectors the chance to fill in the 1953 stats for the player. Fortunately for modern hobbyists, few ever bothered to fill in those blanks.
Another innovation found in this set is the first use of multi-player cards in the modern era of baseball cards. Card #44 features Yankee stars Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Hank Bauer, while card #93 features Billy Martin and Phil Rizzuto. Topps would use multi-player cards frequently in later sets, but not until < href="1954t.html">1954 and not regularly until 1957. There are three levels of scarcity in the Color set. Cards 1-112 are considered to be the most available, 113-128 are the scarcest and 129-160 are in between them in terms of scarcity.
Without splashy graphics on the cards, Bowman allowed the photographs to shine. Among hobbyists, Card #33 of "Pee Wee" Reese is iconic. The picture shows Reese leaping in the air, readying his throw to first base, jumping over a baserunner. A lot of stories about this image have made their way around the hobby and most aren't accurate. First, the picture is not an in-game action shot. There are no players standing in the outfield and the outfield wall isn't from a major league ballfield. The runner (rumored to be Phil Rizzuto) appears to be sliding but isn't kicking up any dust...and is facing the wrong way. Despite all that, it's still a great image. Another card with a notable photo is #159, which is supposed to show Mickey Vernon but acually pictures Floyd Baker (who had his own card in the Black & White series).
The 1953 Bowman Black and White set is similar in all respects to the color set, except that player photos lack color. Even the card backs are similar; however, rather than continuing the set at card #161, the black and white cards are numbered from 1 to 64. It has been reported that the cost of producing the color set was so high that Bowman had no choice but issue the cards with black and white photos. Despite seeming like a low-cost, lesser version of its more famous "sibling," Bowman Black & White cards are scarcer and sometimes more expensive than their color counterparts. While there are fewer stars and their lack of color doesn't make the photos as bold, they are still attractive. Casey Stengel, Johnny Mize and Hoyt Wilhelm highlight this set.
|Color Card #33 - "Pee Wee" Reese (Back)|
1. Davey Williams 2. Vic Wertz 3. Sam Jethroe 4. Art Houtteman 5. Sid Gordon 6. Joe Ginsberg 7. Harry Chiti 8. Al Rosen 9. Phil Rizzuto 10. Richie Ashburn 11. Bobby Shantz 12. Carl Erskine 13. Gus Zernial 14. Billy Loes 15. Jim Busby 16. Bob Friend 17. Gerry Staley 18. Nelson Fox 19. Al Dark 20. Don Lenhardt 21. Joe Garagiola 22. Bob Porterfield 23. Herman Wehmeier 24. Jackie Jensen 25. Walter "Hoot" Evers 26. Roy McMillan 27. Vic Raschi 28. Forrest "Smokey" Burgess 29. Roberto Avila 30. Phil Cavaretta 31. Jimmy Dykes 32. Stan Musial 33. Harold "Pee Wee" Reese 34. Gil Coan 35. Maury McDermott 36. Orestes Minoso 37. Jim Wilson 38. Harry Byrd 39. Paul Richards 40. Larry Doby 41. Sammy White 42. Tommy Brown 43. Mike Garcia 44. Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle 45. Walt Dropo 46. Roy Campanella 47. Ned Garver 48. Hank Sauer 49. Eddie Stanly 50. Lou Kretlow 51. Monte Irvin 52. Marty Marion 53. Del Rice 54. Chico Carrasquel 55. Leo Durocher 56. Bob Cain 57. Lou Boudreau 58. Willard Marshall 59. Mickey Mantle 60. Granny Hamner 61. George Kell 62. Ted Kluszewski 63. Gil McDougald 64. Curt Simmons 65. Robin Roberts 66. Mel Parnell 67. Mel Clark 68. Allie Reynolds 69. Charlie Grimm 70. Clint Courtney 71. Paul Minner 72. Ted Gray 73. Billy Pierce 74. Don Muelluer 75. Saul Rogovin 76. Him Hearn 77. Mickey Grasso 78. Carl Furillo 79. Ray Boone 80. Ralph Kiner 81. Enos Slaughter 82. Joe Astroth 83. Jack Daniels 84. Hank Bauer 85. Solly Hemus 86. Harry Simpson 87. Harry Perkowski 88. Joe Dobson 89. Sandalio Conseguera 90. Joe Nuxhall 91. Steve Souchock 92. Gil Hodges 93. Billy Martin, Phil Rizzuto 94. Bob Addis 95. Wally Moses 96. Sal Maglie 97. Eddie Mathews 98. Hector Rodriguez 99. Warren Spahn 100. Bill Wight 101. Al "Red" Schoendienst 102. Jim Hegan 103. Del Ennis 104. Luke Easter 105. Eddie Joost 106. Ken Raffensberger 107. Alex Kellner 108. Bobby Adams 109. Ken Wood 110. Bob Rush 111. Jim Dyck 112. Tob Atwell 113. Karl Drews 114. Bob Feller 115. Cloyd Boyer 116. Eddie Yost 117. Duke Snider 118. Billy Martin 119. Dale Mitchell 120. Marlin Stuart 121. Yogi Berra 122. Bill Serena 123. Johnny Lipon 124. Charlie Dressen 125. Fred Hatfield 126. Al Corwin 127. Dick Kryhoski 128. Whitey Lockman 129. Russ Meyer 130. Cass Michaels 131. Connie Ryan 132. Fred Hutchinson 133. Willie Jones 134. Johnny Pesky 135. Bobby Morgan 136. Jim Brideweser 137. Sam Dente 138. Bubba Church 139. Pete Runnels 140. Alpha Brazile 141. Frank "Spec" Shea 142. Larry Miggins 143. Al Lopez 144. Warren Hacker 145. George Shuba 146. Early Wynn 147. Clem Koshorek 148. Billy Goodwin 149. Al Corwin 150. Carl Scheib 151. Joe Adcock 152. Clyde Vollmer 153. Ed "Whitey" Ford 154. Omar "Turk" Lown 155. Allie Clark 156. Max Surkont 157. Sherman Lollar 158. Howard Fox 159. Mickey Vernon 160. Cal Abrams
1. Gus Bell 2. Willard Nixon 3. Bill Rigney 4. Pat Mullin 5. Dee Fondy 6. Ray Murray 7. Andy Seminick 8. Pete Suder 9. Walt Masterson 10. Dick Sisler 11. Dick Gernert 12. Randy Jackson 13. Joe Tipton 14. Bill Nicholson 15. Johnny Mize 16. Stu Miller 17. Virgil Trucks 18. Billy Hoeft 19. Paul LaPalme 20. Eddie Robinson 21. Clarence "Bud" Podbeilan 22. Matt Batts 23. Wilmer Mizell 24. Del Wilber 25. John Sain 26. Preacher Roe 27. Bob Lemon 28. Hoyt Wilhelm 29. Sid Hudson 30. Walker Cooper 31. Gene Woodling 32. Rocky Bridges 33. Bob Kuzava 34. Ebba St. Clair 35. Johnny Wyrostek 36. Jim Piersall 37. Hal Jeffcoat 38. Dave Cole 39. Casey Stengel 40. Larry Jansen 41. Bob Ramazotti 42. Howie Judson 43. Hal Bevan 44. Jim Delsing 45. Irv Noren 46. Bucky Harris 47. Jack Lohrke 48. Steve Ridzik 49. Floyd Baker 50. Emil "Dutch" Leonard 51. Lou Burdette 52. Ralph Branca 53. Morris Martin 54. Bill Miller 55. Don Johnson 56. Roy Smalley 57. Andy Pafko 58. Jim Konstanty 59. Duane Pillette 60. Billy Cox 61. Tom Gorman 62. Keith Thomas 63. Steve Gromek 64. Andy Hansen