Well, Athletics underwent some changes, eh? Mr. Nieman is perplexed, too. Look at him staring up at the Wilmer "Billy" Shantz card! By the way, whenever you see that formulation...Broadhead "Dickie" Smith or whatever...the implied absolute is that the actual first name is so awful, a nickname was produced and is in fact what the player is called because the given name is too embarassing to utter on a day-to-day basis. We'd say this is true 95 percent of the time (and you may verify that estimate when we get to the Drake's card list below).
Here is one of the 1955 Bowman autobiographical statements--this one is called "My Biggest Thrill in Baseball." The players probably didn't actually write the remarks, but perhaps tossed out an idea and little Bowman Card Bartlebys wrote the text. Do you agree that the concept is pretty fantastic? THIS CONCEPT SHOULD BE REVIVED. Nowadays, prospects and little guys can write their own autobiographies, and maybe that's where they can autograph the card, too. SHAKE IT UP A LITTLE, CARD COMPANY PEOPLE; throwback and update.
Stats are also included on these backs of these cards. And so is ©B.G.H.L.I., which stands for Bowman Gum Haelan Laboratories Inc. (Here's a link to Contested Culture by Jane M. Gaines, a book that briefly discusses the lawsuit between Bowman and Topps when Topps challenged the exclusivity of Bowman's player agreements.)
This is a fellow who was certainly born to play baseball: Matt Batts. Glorious! He also was born to appear on a baseball card. His Eddie Joost story:
is fair dinkum. Does anyone have 1955 Bowman #4? The Eddie Waitkus text, also titled "My Biggest Thrill in Baseball," begins with: "In 1949 I was shot by a deranged girl." Not sure about you, but I'd like to read that whole story.
As a lunchbox collector, I was interested to discover that the 1955 Bowman cards were designed well before the 1959 American Thermos Looney Tunes lunchbox, which also used a TV screen motif:
By the way, beware of dispiriting modern Hallmark imitiations:
This is the classic 1954 first-RCA-color-television upon which the 1955 Bowmans likely were based, don't you think?:
1955 Bowman cards were a cutting edge design. And although it's true that 1955 Bowman beat Looney Tunes lunchboxes to the TV design punch, the regional Drake's cake company beat national Bowman with the overall TV concept, in this 1950 set:
Not color of course, because these Drake's cards were produced in 1950, well before color television was a twinkle in RCA or Philo Farnsworth's or whoever's eye. Still, the TV presentation is innovative and nifty. Here's a slightly better shot of the Gil Hodges card:
So, if you're tracking, it was five whole entire years before Bowman used the TV motif that Drake's plastered players on TV screen cards. These are 2 1/2" square with a back displaying an ad that says "TV Baseball Series...Save 'em, Trade 'em, For a limited time only in...Drake's Oatmeal or Jumble Cookies."1. Elwin "Preacher" Roe
2. Clint Hartung
3. Earl Torgeson <---he's the one who looks like George Reeves
Eldon, Leland, Sheldon, Vern, Carroll, George, Harold....see our point re nicknames?
1955 Bowman also put 31 umpires on their card TVs:
We're very pleased with the 1955 Bowmans. True, 1953 is probably the Bowman masterpiece year, as it includes such gems as this 1953 Bowman Pee Wee Reese, the "holy grail of midair cards":
But nevertheless, 1955 Bowman is pretty darned good. Whenever we get miffed with Topps, the respite we seek is not in modern Upper Deck technopop baseball cards. It's in some soothing Bowman art.