The 1952 Bowman Baseball set, though overshadowed by the seminal 1952 Topps set, stands in its own right as a set from one of baseball’s greatest eras. The complete set contains 252 cards, including significant players (like Stan Musial) not signed by Topps for 1952. High-number cards in this set (#217-252) are a little harder to find and carry a premium.
The 1952 Bowman cards are similar in design to Bowman’s 1951 issue, each card measuring 2 1/16” x 3 1/8”. Some believe that the design similarity between 1951 and 1952 may have hurt Bowman’s chances to compete with Topps in the long run. Bowman’s 1951 and 1952 designs are nearly identical except that the 1952 Bowman design features facsimile autographs on the card’s face. Although Bowman responded to Topps’ 1952 issue with its stunning, larger-sized color set of 1953, it would never regain the foothold of popularity that it had in 1951 and previous years.
While significant rookie cards are missing in the Bowman set—Minnie Minoso may be the most notable rookie in a class that also includes Gil McDougald, Billy Loes and the high number Lew Burdette—there are two major second-year issues. The 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle (#101) contains a Mantle portrait that stands on its own as stellar artwork. Willie Mays (#218) is the other key second-year issue. These two cards are the keys to completing the 1952 Bowman Baseball set.
The first two cards in the 1952 Bowman Baseball set are very popular. Card #1 is Yogi Berra, and #2 is Bobby Thomson, whose “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” swept the Giants into the World Series at the end of the 1951 season.
Other star cards in the 1952 Bowman set are noteworthy as the players were not signed to a Topps contract that year. These include Musial, Nellie Fox, George Kell and Ralph Kiner. Ted Williams, of course, was absent from either Topps or Bowman set in 1952 as he was flying fighter jets in Korea.
The rise in prices for vintage Hall of Famers, especially Mantle, have pushed prices for complete sets upward. Expect to pay around $2,500 for a lower grade set and $5,000 and up for a higher grade example.
The 1952 Bowman baseball set is a comparatively affordable set from baseball’s golden years that offers collectors a fabulous opportunity to piece together baseball history.
You can check them out on eBay here.