The 1949 Bowman Baseball card set is an important one for the hobby and one of the best sets of the 1940s.
The set (along with the 1948-49 Leaf Baseball Card set) marked the start of colorized baseball cards.
It's a small set by most standards (only 240 cards). But, completing the entire set is an expensive endeavor for collectors.
Herein, we outline the ten most valuable cards in the 1949 Bowman set, providing our thoughts on the investment potential of the set.
1. 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson #50
Jackie Robinson is infamous for helping to break down the long-lasting racial barriers that plagued the sport of baseball. Robinson accomplished much in his short ten-year career in the big leagues, winning six pennants and making six All-Star teams.
Robinson's 1949 Bowman card is considered one of his rookie cards, given that the set came out shortly following the 1949 Leaf Baseball set.
Robinson's Bowman rookie card provides the perfect example of the evolution of printing technology at the time. Colored backgrounds and color accents in the uniform accent the black-and-white player photos.
The '49 Bowman Robinson rookie card won't come cheap and is tough to find in high grades. Only 11 PSA 9 (Mint) copies exist, with the last sale in late 2021 at $360,000. But, those with deep pockets can find mid-grade PSA-graded copies for under $10,000.
Budget-minded collectors looking for something on the cheap might be able to grab a low grade (PSA 1 to PSA 2) for under $4,000.
2. 1949 Bowman Satchel Paige #224
Leroy 'Satchel' Paige was the first black pitcher to play in the American League. Paige was 42 when he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948, yet was known as a dominant pitcher in the Negro Leagues.
Paige's 1949 Bowman card #224 is considered a true rookie card, along with his 1948-1949 Leaf card. It is the second most valuable card in the 1949 Bowman set, yet not too far off from Jackie Robinson rookie card values.
Some collectors new to the 1949 Bowman set, might be surprised to see Paige's name on the front of the card. Notably, Bowman printed a small number of cards with the name on the front of the card, but the majority of the set has no name on front.
Of the more than 1000 copies graded by PSA, only 10 have earned a PSA 9 (Mint), with no Gem-Mint (PSA 10's) getting the grade. Paige's Bowman rookie card has surged in value in recent years. The last PSA 9 copy sold for $228,000 at auction in late 2022.
A low grade Paige Bowman rookie is still valued in the multiple thousands, with even a PSA 1 (Poor Condition) Paige averaging $3000 at auction.
3. 1949 Bowman Roy Campanella #84
Roy Campanella was an all-time great catcher and the first person of mixed race to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Something that goes unobserved by most sports memorabilia fans.
Campanella's 1949 Bowman rookie card has nearly 1400 PSA graded copies, with two PSA 10's in existence and eighteen PSA 9 - Mint copies. The last PSA 10 copy sold at Heritage auction for $108,000 in 2018, thus likely worth more today.
Good news for collectors; a PSA 4 copy or even lower graded versions can be found for under $1000. A good deal for the rookie card of a great HOF catcher.
4. 1949 Bowman Duke Snider #226
This is the one official rookie card of one Edwin 'Duke' Snider, since he did not have a card issued in the 1948-49 Leaf set. The "Silver Fox" spent the majority of his career with the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers.
Snider was named an All-Star for eight consecutive seasons from 1950 to 1958, finishing in the top 10 of MVP voting for five of the eight seasons.
Snider's Bowman rookie card is one of the highlights of the 1949 Bowman set and the fourth most valuable. Less than 1000 Snider rookie cards have been graded by PSA, with only one PSA 10 copy and 13 PSA 9 (Mint) copies.
Collectors can scoop up a lower graded or ungraded Duke Snider rookie card on eBay for less than $1000.
5. 1949 Bowman Stan Musial #24
Stan 'The Man' Musial is considered to be one of the best hitters to ever play the game of baseball. Musial earned an All-Star berth in every year he played with the Cardinals aside from his first two years in the league.
The 1948 Bowman Baseball set contained Musial's rookie card, thus this is Musial's second year card. And a highly desirable one at that. The dark purple background is a far cry from the drab black and white photo from his '48 Bowman rookie card.
No PSA 10 Musial copies exist, but the last PSA 9 Musial copy sold for over $25K at auction. However, lower grade versions are widely available for much less; a PSA 1 to PSA 4 Musial can be found on eBay for $500 or less.
6. 1949 Bowman Yogi Berra #60
Yogi Berra to this day remains one of the most beloved and recognizable New York Yankees players. His 1949 Bowman card marks his second year card, following his 1948 Bowman rookie card release.
Less than 1000 PSA graded copies of the Berra second year Bowman card exist, with only 16 PSA 9 graded copies. PSA 9 copies have averaged $5,000 at auction which appears like a good investment, considering the relative scarcity.
Anyone searching for a more affordable '49 Berra won't have any issues; a lower to mid grade or ungrade copy in good condition sells for under $500 at auction.
7. 1949 Bowman Richie Ashburn #214
Richie Ashburn was a two-time National League batting champion, known for his solid fielding and base-running skills. Ashburn was a five-time All-Star and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.
The 1949 Bowman card of Ashburn represents his true rookie card and one of the few in the set with the 'name on the front'. It's an attainable and affordable card for collectors, with low condition, graded copies valued at under $500.
8. 1949 Bowman Bob Lemon #238
Bob Lemon wasn't necessarily a slam dunk HOF candidate during his playing days. But, his seven 20 or more win pitching seasons combined with a later managerial career was enough to get him over the hump.
Some argue that Lemon's stats do not fully reflect his ability and his reputation as a fierce competitor make him a deserving Hall of Famer.
Lemon's 1949 Bowman rookie card is one of the key HOF rookie cards in the set. Less than 500 copies have been graded by PSA, with the latest PSA 9 copy selling for $32,000 at auction.
Lower grade copies are quite affordable, with even mid grade (PSA 5) copies selling for under $500.
9. 1949 Bowman Larry Doby #233
This could be one of my favorite cards in the set. While most cards in the set feature somewhat boring portrait poses, the '49 Bowman Doby card features the slugger in a great batting pose.
Doby's early cards, like his '49 Bowman rookie card and his '49 Leaf Rookie card have gained in popularity in recent years. With the Players Alliance formed and up and running in the MLB, black players from the early 1950’s are getting some attention they long deserved.
I like Doby's Bowman rookie card for investment potential in all grades. Even a PSA 8 (NM-Mint) copy which sells for $4,000 on average is a great buy, considering that only 70+ copies have earned a PSA 8 grade.
10. 1949 Bowman Robin Roberts #46
Robin Roberts is widely regarded as one of the best pitchers of his era and one of the greatest Phillies players of all time. Roberts had six consecutive seasons from 1950 to 1955 with 20 or more wins. Over those six seasons, Roberts finished as a top 10 MVP finalist in five of the six seasons.
The 1949 Bowman Robin Roberts card is his true rookie card and the most affordable HOF Rookie card in the set. Ungraded or low grade copies can be scooped up for a few hundred dollars. However, a PSA 9, Mint copy sells for around $5000 at auction.