Some 1955 Bowman and Some 2020 St. Louis Cardinals

Yeah, that’s a strange combo, but I’ll make it make sense…

There’s been some good promotions at the local hobby shop, Pal’s Sports Cards. About once a month, they are running a Baseball Team Break (with NFL and NHL breaks going on during off-weeks, but I have no interest in that…). Until recently, I’d never taken part in one. Although I do enjoy watching the live streaming videos, regardless of where they are coming from. Sometimes if I was watching from the start, I'd pick a team and follow that through the break. Hoping my fictional pick in the pool would net a big buncha cool cards that I wouldn't get to own. 

So maybe I should join one of these?

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post from Pal’s on facebook, announcing there would be a group baseball break on October 30, 2020. Spots were $25 for one random team, with the following 2020 boxes comprising the pool.

Prizm and Optic are great for what they are. Shiny, logoless and fairly solid in value and player selection. I’ve never seen any cards from Absolute, and Chronicles has become a fun pack to open here and there. Lastly, would be a box of 2020 Stadium Club.

When I went in to pay for my spot, I predicted that I’d draw the Pirates. And end up with 3 Kevin Newman base cards out of the deal. He said I should aim higher, like the White Sox or Padres. After all, I could even get the Rockies! That would be cool, but I prefer to set myself up for a surprise by expecting the worst. That way it’s harder to feel let down! (Although, the Pirates did net an autographed card. Which was not Kevin Newman!)

Just before the box break, the teams were randomly picked…

Hmmmm… That could be interesting, though I’m NOT a Cardinals fan.

Up first was Donruss Optic, which netted me…

A Yadier Molina base card. 

And nothing else.

Panini Prizm was up next for the shredding…

Another Yadier Molina base card. With almost the exact same photo as Optic.

Out of the Prizm and Optic, I was hoping for at least a couple of Paninifractors, since those always look cool. Of course Panai can’t use that term due to copyright, so Panini has to call their Refractory looking cards: Prizms. Which would make the parallels from this set called Panini Prizm uh... Prizms?

This was a bonus Goldschmidt, not part of the team break. When I was picked my sack of Cardinals up, it was thrown in as an addition to my Redbird haul. And it's quite a nice looking card!

But the prize of the Panini Prizm Prizms was this:

A Tommy Edman Blue Ring Macaronifractor, numbered out of 199!

Up next was the Stadium Club box. By sheer volume of cards included inside there, I'd likely bulk up my break total from a measly three. As an added bonus, I really like 2020 Stadium Club.

Kolten Wong.

He's good...

I've opened A LOT of 2020 Stadium Club this season. And while I have yet to pull any Earth-shattering insert cards from the set, I have almost completed the full 300 card base set. Though, it's one of my lesser favorite Stadium Club designs of the last six years. Not the biggest fan of the lower-case letters. They don't fit in with what Stadium Club usually chooses with their fonts. And that team color band in the bottom left corner reminds me of one thing...

Not calling 2020 Stadium Club boring by any means.

Because the set is still filled with awesome photography like this:

The yearly cliche "Home Run at Busch Stadium" card. Each year's set has one.

This year it's our shiny friend Goldschmidt!

Another nice photo featuring Busch Stadium...

A less nice photo featuring less of Busch Stadium.

The baby-blue Cardinals are represented...

As is a Hall of Famer. Though I feel like he should be upside-down, doing one of his backflips, instead of just flying low across the basepaths.

Now this is something I really like! Even though it's a colorized black and white photo, they did a good job with it. This is a Cardinals card I'm happy to own!

Cool! I needed Kwang-Hyun Kim for my 2020 Stadium Club set.

Now I'm only 6 cards away from completing it!

And Jack Flaherty is a boring standard Topps photo. Complete with trademark Topps' Pitcher Face!

But the box had another Cardinals hit! A Jack Flaherty in Chrome Refractor clothing. Not sure why it's goldish-yellow looking. It's not serial numbered like the rarer stuff in the set is. And it's not normal colored, like the regular Chrome Refractors are. But I don't feel like looking it up right now. It's a cool enough card, and will fit in perfectly with my 2020 card binders. As soon as I get around to putting those together.

That was it for my St. Louis Cardinals winnings from the box break. I got a grand total of zero cards from Absolute or Chronicles. And that bummed me out. Maybe next time... I will have to do this again!

When I went in to pick up my sack of Cardinals, I flipped through some other stuff to see what was new. The only thing catching my eye were a small stack of singles from the 2020 Panini Prizm bin. A couple Rockies and a couple Twins, and a few others.

Like most of the Rockies, Arenado had a down 2020 season. His .738 OPS was his worst output since his rookie season of 2013, when he was only 22 years old. Whether it was the contract pressure, off-season trade rumors, Jeff Bridich or the restrictions on the game due to Covid-19, this season was not up to his lofty standards. Hopefully the Rockies hold onto Arenado and don't ship him to the Cardinals this December. The contract meant to keep him in Denver will unfortunately be the reason he wont stay in Denver...

You need to do better Jeff Bridich!

Some cat hair got on the scanner again.. Sorry Polanco...

But your teammate has to deal with it as well...

One other thing I picked up that day was a pack of 1955 Bowman baseball.


Last summer, a complete set of 1955 Bowman baseball came into the shop. I was shown the album it was housed in, and flipped through he pages. I'd never viewed a complete set that old before. And that was really cool. He said he was looking to re-sell the set (far too rich for my blood), but wasn't sure what to do with it.

1955 was the last season that Bowman produced baseball cards as their own company. The 1989 brand resuscitation came under the Topps umbrella, as Bowman went out of business and Topps picked the carcass. The mid-1950's saw Bowman quickly lose ground to Topps, despite a 3 year head start at making baseball cards. Topps was also signing players to contracts for trading cards away from Bowman, in the early 1950's. While Bowman still had Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, they lost Ted Williams, and missed out on the hot rookies of 1955 like Sandy Koufax and Harmon Killebrew. Bowman tried to appeal to the kids who preferred Topps, by designing the cards to look like miniature color televisions, as that was cutting edge technology of the day.

Collectors chose Topps ultimately, and 1955 was Bowman's last year producing cards for another 34 years.

A few weeks ago, I was informed as to the fate of Pal's 1955 Bowman complete set. It would be divided into forty 8 card lots, each card sleeved and placed in a top loader, and sold as individual eight card packs. That's a fun idea, and I'll support it!

I bought one of those packs when I picked up my Cardinals.

Fingers crossed for some autographed Chrome Superfractor parallels that I'm sure Pal's has been working on...

Or at least some vintage Expos!

I'll obviously never buy any original factory made packs of 1955 Bowman, but opening this kind of replicated what card collecting was like 65 years ago. In no particular order, here is my 1/40th of a set of 1955 Bowman baseball...

John Flaherty - American League Umpire

To combat the loss of stars under Bowman's contract, the 1955 set includes a bunch of MLB Umpires. While they are kinda cool now, I could easily see how this would annoy young collectors during that day. For example: You and your friend bike to the candy store and each plunk down a shiny nickel for one pack of 1955 Bowman. Your friend pulls several of the top stars, Including a Mickey Mantle. But you pull three Umpires... Yeah, that would be kind of obnoxious...

I do like the card backs. They were all fairly fun to read. My favorite part of this one is the second trivia question. In 1955, no pitcher had ever thrown a World Series no hitter. But in 1956, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw a Perfect Game. Making this question incorrect just one year later.

Charles Neal - Brooklyn Dodgers

Seems almost appropriate that I would pull a Charles Neal from this pack. I seem to attract his cards. I know that I have at least 4 of his 1959 Topps cards, and several others as well. Not a player collection, after all, Neal is a Dodger, but it was nice to pull his Bowman rookie card from a pack, given the history.

Neal was a former St. Paul (MN) Saint! He would play with the Dodgers through the 1961 season, before a trade to the expansion New York Mets. A season and a half with the Mets, Neal then wrapped up his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1963.

Owen Friend - Boston Red Sox

Friend was the epitome of a fringe Major Leaguer. He saw time with the St. Louis Browns, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and 14 total games with the Boston Red Sox. 

As far as the trivia question on the card goes, well I learned something. I knew that sort of thing wasn't allowed, but I didn't know what the rule actually was.

Phil Cavarretta - Chicago White Sox

Cavarretta made his Major League Debut in 1934, at only 17 years old. He would go on to play 20 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, then another 2 with the White Sox. Also on his resume was a run managing the Cubs from 1951-1953, while playing first base. I keep wondering if we'll ever see another player/manager in baseball. The last one being Pete Rose, from 1985-1989.

The card back sums it up perfectly: "He started his career with the Cubs when a lot of today's stars were children."

Hal Rice - Chicago Cubs

This card (and all first series 1995 Bowman cards) feature a much lighter TV. For whatever reason, series 2 and 3 have darker wood televisions. Hal's career had wrapped up by the time his 1955 Bowman card hit packs. Not a superstar, or even a starter, he did manage a 7 year run with the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates.

Although, trying to follow his career timeline is rather difficult in the way Bowman worded their bio.

Pete Runnels - Washington Senators

Rather unfortunate surface wear for a card that will definitely find it's way into my Twins binder. It will fit right in with my 1957 Topps Pete Runnels card, which was purchased at Pal's several years ago. 1957 was his last season with the Senators, so he never made it to Minnesota with the Twins. He did last from 1951-1964 with Washington, the Boston Red Sox, and two seasons at the end of his career with the expansion Houston Colt .45's.

I can't imagine a manager calling for a pinch hitter with a 3-2 count already on the batter...

Was he asleep when the at-bat started?

Jim Brosnan - Chicago Cubs

Miscut cards are a well known feature in the 1955 Bowman set. As are cards that are trimmed shorter than the set's standard size. A nice break in the fake wood grain can be seen on the left side of the card. I'm guessing that is what Bowman was using for cut lines off the press. If so, that's pretty bad. How are you going to see that line consistently in a dimly lit bindery?

(Nearly 20 years of working in printing has taken a lot of the fun out of looking at printed media.)

As for the card itself, I will never complain about a good shot of the Polo Grounds. And Jim Brosnan's card has that! And it's his rookie card!

His bio is written in a much larger font for some reason...

Walt Dropo - Chicago White Sox

But my favorite picture among these eight 1955 Bowman cards has to be Dropo's. That's Shibe Park in Philadelphia. And I've loved pictures of Shibe Park even more than the Polo Grounds, when it comes to instantly recognizable ballparks of the past.

Dropo was a steady power hitting first baseman for the Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Reds between 1949 and 1961. Decent name, great picture. I don't even care about the creases!

So that wraps it up for my 1955 Bowman review. If more packs remain, I may pick up another.

Hell, I may try and complete the set!

Before I stop writing this, let me announce that after much internal debate, I decided that I would be doing a...

2020 Topps Update Hobby Jumbo Box Break. 

Yup, I'm going to continue that Four Baggers tradition. I've already bought it, already opened it, already scanned it, and already formed many snarky opinion of it. Although it's not all negative! As soon as I find enough spare time, I'll actually write about it!

No guarantees that I'll be doing these in 2021... 

Have you seen the crappy design Topps sleepwalked through?


But if I get bored with writing about 2020 Topps Update, I've still got my big BBQ story sitting on the smoker...

Famous Dave's Coon Rapids is still gone.

And I've still had no time to finish writing about it...

But I will, I promise!


  1. I have been trying to complete the 55 Bowman for several years now....You got a nice pack with some high numbered cards....


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