In the movie "The Princess Bride" (1987), Inigo Montoya asks the Man in Black, "Who are you? I must know." The Man in Black replies, "Get used to disappointment." As a dealer in collectibles, that is a phrase I have come to understand all too well.
The hobby/business of buying and selling sportscards often takes me to people's homes for a look at their collections. A vast majority of the time, the cards have little or no market value because the industry over-produced their products in the 1980's and 90's. The disappointment on their faces is obvious when they learn that even though the cards might be 25 years old, the most productive location for them would be in a fireplace on a cold evening. The difference is that they're only disappointed once, while it is a constant occurrence for me.
However, as with most prospectors, I always hold out hope that the next time there will be some gold nuggets in that creek. Recently, an acquaintance of mine referred me to a retired couple in our community who had some "old baseball cards." They were lovely people and as I sat at their dining room table, they opened an old box that contained about 150 cards. Not a large collection by any means, but every card was from 1955! They included Bowman baseball and football cards along with a few Topps football cards. It seems that this fellow only collected for one year in his youth and held onto the cards all this time. They were pleased to get somewhat of a windfall from a person they could trust, rather than taking the cards to a hobby shop or collectibles show. And, I enjoyed the opportunity to purchase some vintage cards that hadn't been through too many hands over the last 55+ years.
In a previous visit, we reviewed the '55 Topps All-American Football set that was represented in this collection and today, we'll look at the '55 Bowman Football set that includes so many of the players who were the foundation for today's NFL. The listed card values are based on "Near Mint" (NM 7) condition.
> #1 Doak Walker, Detroit RB/KR ($90) - A legendary college player at SMU, he starred for the Lions from 1950-55 and entered the Hall of Fame in 1986
> #7 Frank Gifford, New York RB ($80) - Taken in the 1st round of the NFL Draft in 1952 out of USC, he played until '64 and then became a well-known broadcaster...one of the most popular players in the emergence of the NFL in the late 50's, he became a Hall of Famer in 1977
> #32 Norm Van Brocklin, Los Angeles QB ($50) - Traded to Philadelphia in 1958, he led the Eagles to the NFL Championship in 1960 before retiring and later becoming the head coach for both the Vikings and the Falcons
> #62 George Blanda, Chicago QB/K ($70) - This Hall of Famer essentially had two careers. He was let go by the Bears after the 1958 season at age 31. Two years later, he re-emerged in the new AFL as the Oilers QB and played another 16 years before retiring at age 48
> #70 Jim Ringo, Green Bay C ($100) - This is the rookie card of the player who anchored the offensive line for the Packers championship teams of the 50's and 60's
> #71 Bobby Layne, Detroit QB ($80) - This gritty playmaker led the Lions to the 1952, 1953 and 1957 NFL Championships and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967
> #72 Y.A. Tittle, San Francisco QB ($80) - One of the great passers of the era, he played for 17 seasons and was a three-time All Pro
> #101 Bob St. Clair, San Francisco OT ($100) - The rookie card of this Hall of Fame offensive lineman, he was an intimidating force at 6' 9" and 263 pounds
> #152 Tom Landry New York DB/P ($220) - 1955 was the final year of his playing career, but the man they called "Mt. Rushmore with a hat" became one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history and led the Dallas Cowboys to multiple Super Bowl Championships
This iconic 160-card set has many other familiar names such as Ollie Matson, Lou Groza, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny, Chuck Bednarik and more. A complete set in "Near Mint" condition books for over $4,000.
If you asked Vizzini the chances of me finding cards like these the next time, he would say, "Inconceivable."