The early Spring of 1950 brought the release of Bowman Baseball Cards to local neighborhood corner stores.
As kids ripped into new packs, a surprise awaited; beautiful full-color cards, a big improvement over the monochrome colors used in the 1949 Bowman issue.
The beautifully painted images in the 252 card set boast a mix of breathtaking ballpark backgrounds, action shots, and classic portrait photos.
The thin white border leads the collector’s eye to focus on the brilliance of the artistry, a simplicity that makes it one of my favorite baseball sets.
Like the 48 and 49 Bowman cards that preceded it, the cards are a smaller size (2 ⅙ x 2 ½), which was the norm, until Topps rolled into town in 1952 with larger size cards.
A few stars of the day are notably absent from the set, both Stan “The Man” Musial and Joe DiMaggio are glaring omissions. Neither had signed contracts with Bowman. (Note, however, that Joe’s brother Dom is a part of the set)
Despite the absence, the brilliance in design and remaining star power has led to collectors bidding up pricing for some of the big-name HOFers in the set.
In this piece, I take a look at ten of the highest-priced cards in the 1950 Bowman set, while offering my overall opinion on the investment potential for collectors.
The Hall of Famers - Most Valuable Cards
All in all, there are cards of twenty-six HOF players in the 1950 Bowman set.
As follows, I'll cover the Top Ten Most Valuable HOF cards from the set.
1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson #22
Jackie Robinson's legacy runs deep; the first black player to play in the majors and one of the best to ever play the game.
His 1950 Bowman issue is the most valuable in the set and showcases Jackie at bat with the Dodgers.
Higher grade copies are ridiculously hot; PSA 6 examples have sold as high as $8000 with an average price in the $6000 range.
Ungraded cards, depending on condition, have been selling for between $800 and $2000.
1950 Bowman Ted Williams #98
A beautiful action shot of Ted swinging away inside of Fenway Park.
The current PSA population on Ted's 1950 Bowman card is around 1300 copies, so again, not impossible to find.
But for such an iconic card, collector demand has been through the roof, leading to big price increases, especially on higher grades.
Mid grade PSA graded cards will command between $1200 to $1500.
But if you're in the market for a Ted, go to eBay and search for ungraded listings.
You can usually find one between $300 to $400 in lower grade.
Ted's Bowman card is one that I still see as relatively underrated.
1950 Bowman Yogi Berra #46
The card depicts Berra throwing from the catcher's position with his mask on the ground in front of him.
One fascinating aspect of this card that no one ever talks about is the four ghost players far in the background.
They say DiMaggio is not represented in the set but maybe just maybe one of those ghost players is “Joltin Joe” himself?
Mid grade PSA copies for this card range from $500 - $700.
But if you want an ungraded card they are fairly easy to find for less than $300.
1950 Bowman Bob Feller #6
One of my favorites from the set, Feller was a lights out pitcher.
Ted Williams called Feller 'the fastest and best pitcher' he had ever seen.
Feller lost three years of prime pitching years, due to a stint in the US Navy during World War II.
Although he still amassed 266 wins and over 2500 strikeouts in his career, he likely would have eclipsed 300 wins and 3000 strikeouts.
The colors here are one of the reasons I love this Bowman set, showcasing Feller in mid windup along with colorful and crisp detail of the fans and players in the background.
From a graded standpoint, the Feller card has less than half the PSA population as the more valuable Robinson and Williams cards. I don't think this is due to rarity but the fact that collectors tend to grade more valuable cards.
Still, an ungraded copy can usually be found for less than $100 in lower to mid grade.
1950 Bowman Roy Campanella #75
Roy Campanella was an all-time great catcher but was also the first person of mixed race to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
On this one, we get a semi-smile out of 'Campy' in a cool portrait card.
Roy was just hitting the prime of his career and would go on to win three MVP awards in the next five years.
PSA has graded ~800 copies; ungraded copies can typically be found for less than $200, a sweet buy in my opinion.
1950 Bowman Pee Wee Reese #21
Reese is considered to be one of the best fielding shortstops to ever play the game.
He was a respectable hitter when shortstops weren't really expected to contribute much offensively.
He led the Dodgers to two World Series championships, while finishing in the top ten for MVP voting eight times!
On this card, we get a cool portrait shot of Reese.
PSA has graded ~550 copies of this card. It's not super expensive either - a mid grade copy can typically be found for less than $250.
1950 Bowman Duke Snider #77
This card was released right when Snider was coming into his own.
Snider would be named to seven consecutive All-Star teams from 1950-1956.
Here we find a young Duke swinging his bat at Ebbets Field, likely getting ready to crush the opposing pitcher.
It's a classic card, that can typically be found for under $200 in mid grades.
1950 Bowman Warren Spahn #19
Spahn, like Feller, was another dominant pitcher that had three years cut from his career due to military service.
Despite this, Spahn amassed 363 wins, 3 ERA titles and 17-All-Star appearances (WOW).
One thing to note on this card - this copy has what is referred to as bad 'registration'.
It's fairly common with this set, and just equates to sloppy printing where the ink didn't align properly.
Not all cards from the 1950 Bowman set have poor registration and the grading companies won't necessarily lower the grade for a card with bad registration.
However, if you can, I recommend finding one with good registration.
1950 Bowman Phil Rizzuto #11
"Scooter" had just finished second in MVP voting in 1949 and ended up winning the MVP in 1950 when this card was released.
While not typically known as a prolific hitter, his 1950 season was the year in which Rizzuto put it all together.
He batted .324, scored 125 runs and led the Yankees to their second straight World Series title.
PSA has graded ~550 copies, so fairly easy to get your hands on one.
If you want an ungraded copy, you can usually find one in decent shape for $100 or less.
1950 Bowman Ralph Kiner #33
This card was released following Kiner's blockbuster 1949 season, in which he destroyed opposing hitters, smacking 54 homers and 127 RBI's, finishing fourth in MVP voting.
Here we get Kiner in his classic slugger pose, standing in front of a few fans in Forbes Field.
The card is VERY affordable; mid grade PSA copies can be grabbed for less than $100.
Other Semi Stars and Rookies Of Note
There is also one card of a forgotten hero in the set: Jim Konstanty.
Jim won the National League MVP in 1950. He was the first relief pitcher to ever win the award.
He only played 11 seasons and kind of fizzled out after his 1950 campaign. But for one summer, he was the Phillies shining star out of the pen.
One last player to consider while looking into investing in 1950 Bowman Cards:
Larry Doby #39
While not his first card ever, it is one of the best shots on any of Doby's cards; a beautifully painted picture of him at the plate with a background full of cheering fans.
Expect to spend $500+ on a higher graded (PSA 6 to PSA 8) copy.
Ungraded cards in lower grades can sometimes be found for less than $100.
My advice? Buy up on this card!
What is buying up?
Spend a little more than you normally might.
Doby is an underrated player that deserves more attention.
Look for this card to go up in price over the next couple of years.
With the relatively new Players Alliance formed and up and running in the MLB, black players from the early 1950’s are getting some attention they long deserved.
This only helps the investment case for this card.
Investment Potential Of The 1950 Bowman Set
Despite the omission of Joe DiMaggio and Musial, there are plenty of high power stars in the 1950 Bowman set that are investment worthy.
In my mind, the cards of Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams are the first choice for anyone looking at the set from an investment perspective.
While the rookies in the set disappoint, I think the design and overall star power make for a set that should remain in high demand among vintage collectors.
Buying higher graded, lower population cards, while more expensive, is the way to play it (if possible).
If your budget is more limited, there is plenty of supply available to purchase on eBay. I'd opt for those Bowman cards with a good register, and avoid cards that were printed a bit blurry.
Remember: Buy the card, and not the grade!