1948-49 Leaf Baseball Cards

1948-49 Leaf Baseball Cards


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Led by rookie cards for Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and many other Hall of Fame players, 1948-49 Leaf Baseball is a noteworthy vintage release. The loaded checklist is further enhanced by short prints that occupy almost half the set.

1948-49 Leaf Baseball is significant because it was the first post-World War II set to feature color pictures on them. Virtually no sets were produced in the years previous due to wartime restrictions on ink, cardboard and many supplies needed to make gum. As a result, the set features several key Hall of Fame rookie cards.

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Measuring 2-3/8" by 2-7/8", the set's design is relatively basic. Each card front features a player against a vividly colored background that is either solid or two-tone. The player's name appears below a picture in a solid-colored box. 1948-49 Leaf Baseball card backs have the player's biographical info and a brief write-up, which was pretty standard for gum cards before Topps came along. As was customary for the era, an ad for All-Star Baseball Gum appears at the bottom, along with an offer for one of three wrapper redemption premiums.

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While rookie cards fill a huge percentage of the set, key veterans include Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. One of the more interesting cards in 1948-49 Leaf Baseball is that of Honus Wagner (#70), who, at the time, was a coach for the Pirates. On the card, he's shown stuffing chewing tobacco into his mouth, an interesting revelation for hobbyists who thought his famed T206 card was withdrawn due to an anti-tobacco stance.

Hobbyists have long argued specifics about 1948-49 Leaf Baseball . Since the cards contain both 1948 and 1949 copyright dates on them, they can be seen as a two-year issue. Some collectors, however, contend that they are a 1949 issue since nearly all have info about the 1948 season on them. What is certain is that the cards have long been debated in the hobby. As late as 1960, collectors were still trying to figure out how many cards the set contained in all.

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Eventually, after much internal hobby debate, it was determined that 98 cards complete the basic 1948-49 Leaf Baseball set. A few factors made things less clear for collectors. First, the cards are skip-numbered from 1-168.  Secondly, a premium offer found on some of the card backs references an album that would hold 168 cards. Finally, exactly half of the cards were severely short-printed, to the point that it is incredibly difficult to piece the set together without a lot of patience, time and money.

It's not known why 1948-49 Leaf Baseball was skip-numbered, but it has been speculated that Leaf was hoping to get kids to keep spending their pennies and nickels on cards that weren't in existence. It's also possible that future series were planned but scrapped when Bowman came along and signed players to exclusive contracts.

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In addition, a handful of acknowledged variations bring the master set size up to 101 total cards. Gene Hermanski can be found with and without the last 'i' in his name. Cliff Aberson has two different sleeve lengths. Finally, Kent Peterson has him wearing either a red cap or a dark one. Since the 1948-49 Leaf Baseball cards themselves were crudely colored, they are often found with coloring variations and registration issues.

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Key Cards

Key 1948-49 Leaf Baseball Cards

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#8 Satchel Paige

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#93 Bob Feller

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#4 Stan Musial

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#79 Jackie Robinson

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#1 Joe DiMaggio

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#3 Babe Ruth

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#32 Warren Spahn

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#76 Ted Williams

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#120 George Kell

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#158 Harry Brecheen

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Set Checklist

1948-49 Leaf Baseball Set Checklist

The set is skip-numbered and also includes three variations.

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1 Joe DiMaggio
3 Babe Ruth
4 Stan Musial
5 Virgil Trucks RC SP
8 Satchel Paige RC SP
10 Dizzy Trout
11 Phil Rizzuto
13 Cass Michaels RC SP
14 Billy Johnson
17 Frank Overmire RC
19 Johnny Wyrostek SP
20 Hank Sauer SP
22 Al Evans RC
26 Sam Chapman
27 Mickey Harris RC
28 Jim Hearn RC
29 Elmer Valo RC
30 Billy Goodman RC SP
31 Lou Brissie RC
32 Warren Spahn
33 Peanuts Lowrey RC SP
36 Al Zarilla SP
38 Ted Kluszewski RC
39 Ewell Blackwell
42 Kent Peterson RC - Blue Cap
42 Kent Peterson RC - Red Cap
43 Ed Stevens RC SP
45 Ken Keltner RC SP
46 Johnny Mize
47 George Vico RC
48 Johnny Schmidtz RC SP
49 Del Ennis RC
50 Dick Wakefield RC
51 Alvin Dark RC SP
53 Johnny Vander Meer
54 Bobby Adams RC SP
55 Tommy Henrich SP
56 Larry Jansen
57 Bob McCall RC
59 Luke Appling
61 Jake Early RC
62 Eddie Joost SP
63 Barney McCosky SP
65 Robert Elliott
66 Orval Grove RC SP
68 Eddie Miller SP
70 Honus Wagner
72 Hank Edwards RC
73 Pat Seerey RC
75 Dom DiMaggio SP
76 Ted Williams
77 Roy Smalley RC
78 Hoot Evers RC SP
79 Jackie Robinson RC
81 Whitney Kurowski RC SP
82 Johnny Lindell
83 Bobby Doerr
84 Sid Hudson
85 Dave Philley RC SP
86 Ralph Weigel RC
88 Frank Gustine RC SP
91 Ralph Kiner
93 Bob Feller SP
95 George Stirnweiss
97 Marty Marion
98 Hal Newhouser RC SP
102 Gene Hermanski RC - Hermansk
102 Gene Hermanski RC - Hermanski
104 Bud Stewart RC SP
106 Lou Boudreau MG RC
108 Matt Batts RC SP
111 Jerry Priddy RC
113 Dutch Leonard SP
117 Joe Gordon RC
120 George Kell RC SP
121 Johnny Pesky RC SP
123 Cliff Fannin RC SP
125 Andy Pafko RC
127 Enos Slaughter SP
128 Buddy Rosar
129 Kirby Higbe SP
131 Sid Gordon SP
133 Tommy Holmes RC SP
136 Cliff Aberson RC - Full Sleeve
136 Cliff Aberson RC - Short Sleeve
137 Harry Walker RC SP
138 Larry Doby RC SP
139 Johnny Hopp RC
142 Danny Murtaugh RC SP
143 Dick Sisler RC SP
144 Bob Dillinger RC SP
146 Pete Reiser SP
149 Hank Majeski RC SP
153 Floyd Baker RC SP
158 Harry Brecheen RC SP
159 Mizel Platt RC
160 Bob Scheffing RC SP
161 Vern Stephens RC SP
163 Fred Hutchinson RC SP
165 Dale Mitchell RC SP
168 Phil Cavaretta RC SP

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Chris Stufflestreet
Chris is an avid vintage sports card collector who is The Cardboard Connection's resident expert of all things vintage.

User Reviews

  1. I recently bought a 1948 Leaf Joe Dimaggio,J. Robinson, and Ted Williams. Becketts says it can’t grade the Dimaggio card and believes it to be 90 percent fake, it has 1948 copyright on back.It looks very old,w rounding of the corners They said the reason is that is has some gloss to the front, do you know whether the cards had gloss or no-sheen.Also are there any other dead-giveaways to spot fakes?They said very good repros were made in the 80’s

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