Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s

Sports cards have been around for close to 150 years. That said, the modern hobby where cards were the main selling point and not the premium didn't really take off until around the 1950s when Bowman and Topps squared off against one another. For football cards, it was an era of gorgeous designs. It also saw the hobby debuts of several all-time greats. Jim Brown, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Frank Gifford and Tom Landry are just some of the legendary football rookie cards of the 1950s.

Football cards don't have the same rich history as their baseball counterparts. While they existed before the 1950s, there weren't a ton of football sets. That's what makes the decade so important to gridiron fans. 1950s football cards took the sport into mainstream collecting.

When looking at the top 1950s football rookie cards, one set stands out in particular, 1952 Bowman Large Football. While the cards are beautiful, much of their status comes from the number of short prints. In 1952, Bowman experimented with two sizes for football. 1952 Bowman Large Football was a new size. And with all new things, there's a lot of trial and error.

As a result, many cards are tougher to find than others. The domino effect carries over to card values where players who might not normally be worth a lot are all of a sudden among the most valuable vintage football cards. This rings loudest with the 1952 Bowman Large Jim Lansford.  Although he played in a handful of NFL games, the card is one of the most desirable of all-time. The reason? It's tough to find, particularly in high-grade condition. Positioned on the bottom corner of one of the set's sheets, a lot got damaged as Bowman perfected the new dimensions. As a result, the 1952 Bowman Large Jim Lansford can outsell rookies from legends like Jim Brown and Bart Starr. By comparison, the Lansford in 1952 Bowman Small doesn't cause much of a stir at all.

A common theme among football's top rookie cards of the 1950s is how relatively inexpensive they are compared to 1950s baseball cards. Sure, some can go well into the thousands when professional grading is taken into account. But there's nothing like the prestige of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle or the rookie cards of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax or the other top 1950s baseball rookie cards.

Below is a list of the top 25 football rookie cards of the 1950s. While value is one of the primary criteria, it's not the only one. When values are close, the player and overall iconic status of the card was also taken into consideration.

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s

Click on the card name or image to shop for singles on eBay.

25. 1950 Bowman Lou Groza RC #6

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 1

24. 1950 Bowman Joe Perry RC #35

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 2

23. 1952 Bowman Small George Halas RC #48

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 3

22. 1955 Topps All-American Don Hutson RC #97

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 4

21. 1950 Bowman Marion Motley RC #43

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 5

20. 1952 Bowman Large Ollie Matson RC #127 SP

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 6

19. 1952 Bowman Large Steve Romanik RC #126 SP

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 7

18. 1952 Bowman Large Chuck Bednarik RC #10 SP

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 8

17. 1950 Bowman Y.A. Tittle RC #5

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 9

16. 1952 Bowman Large John Hancock RC #36

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 10

15. 1952 Bowman Small Frank Gifford RC #16

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 11

14. 1957 Topps Paul Hornung RC #151

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 12

13. 1950 Bowman Otto Graham RC #45

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 13

12. 1951 Bowman Norm Van Brocklin RC #4

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 14

11. 1952 Bowman Large John Schweder RC #72 SP

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 15

10. 1952 Bowman Large  Joe Stydahar RC #99 SP

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 16

9. 1951 Bowman Tom Landry RC #20

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 17

8. 1955 Topps All-American Four Horsemen Jim Crowley RC, Elmer Layden RC, Don Miller RC, Harry Stuhlderher RC #68

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 18

7. 1952 Bowman Large Frank Gifford RC #16

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 19

6. 1952 Bowman Large Hubert Johnston RC #108 SP

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 20

5. 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas RC #138

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 21

4. 1952 Bowman Large Gene Ronzani RC #135 SP

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 22

3. 1958 Topps Jim Brown RC #62

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 23

2. 1957 Topps Bart Starr RC #119

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 24

1. 1952 Bowman Large Jim Lansford RC #144 SP

 Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 25

Top 25 Football Rookie Cards of the 1950s 26
« Previous1234

Author

Ryan Cracknell

E-Mail Author | 
Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff.   His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.

Leave a Comment: