Tuesday, September 8, 2020

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats: the 1950s

 I posted once before about picking up the 1986 Sportflics Decade Greats set.  As the name suggests, the cards are arranged by decade.  They start with the 30s, and I posted a handful of the cards representing the 30s and 40s.  I've meant to get back to this, and today here are some of the cards of the 50s.

An image mainly of Mickey Vernon.
Best first basemen of the 50s.
Sportflics of course sometimes did solo cards of players and sometimes leveraged their format for greater impact, and here we have a 3-in-1 card of the best first basemen of the 50s:  Gil Hodges, Ted Kluszewski, and Mickey Vernon.  Speaking for myself at least, you never know which image you'll get when scanning Sportflics, and what showed up here was an image that was largely Mickey Vernon in his Senators cap.
Ralph Kiner.
Stan Musial.
Although the 1950s Pirates weren't very good, finishing either 7th or 8th each year from 1950-1957 (although things picked up after that), I wanted to represent them here.  Above, Ted Kluszewski is mentioned as being a Pirate on the card back, but he's pictured as a Red.  Here we have a better representation in Ralph Kiner.  I think the effect of the scan is funny, making him look like one of those 1938 Goudey cards with the big head.  The Cardinals were actually only a little better than the Pirates in the 50s, in a bit of a lull between winning multiple World Series in the 40s and in the 60s.  Here we have their great, Stan Musial.
Warren Spahn.
Eddie Mathews.
By contrast, a perennial contender in the 50s was the Braves, and they did take home a World Series in 1957.  I've said many times on this blog that the Phillies winning the 1980 World Series was a formative experience for me, happening just as I was turning 5 years old.  That team rhymes a bit with those Braves of the 50s, with the great left-handed pitcher (Warren Spahn or Steve Carlton) and the 500-home-run hitting third baseman (Eddie Mathews or Mike Schmidt).  There isn't an analogue of a young Hank Aaron on those Phillies, though.
Luis Aparacio and Nellie Fox.
Best Double Play Duo of the 50s.

The White Sox didn't win a World Series in the 50s but they were a contender, with a pennant in 1959 and several 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the AL.  They're represented well here with Hall of Fame infield combo Nellie Fox and Luis Aparacio.  There's also a card (not pictured) of Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, who finished the decade with the White Sox.  Other players representing the 50s in the set that I'm not showing are Duke Snider and Yogi Berra (and a few more, which will be featured in another post).

This is really a great set with a lot of beautiful photos.  I think it's Sportflics at its best.  Thanks for reading!


  1. I want to add a comment that you might notice some notable players of the 50s missing, beyond the couple I mentioned (Duke Snider, Yogi Berra, and Early Wynn). Jackie Robinson, for example. It turns out I had set aside some of the cards to feature in a blog post before I took a long hiatus, and when I went today to get cards from the set to scan, the ones I could find were the ones that I hadn't originally intended to feature. After I posted, I found the ones I had originally set aside to feature, including Jackie Robinson. So there will be another post coming with more Sportflics of players of the 50s.