Card of the Day: 1951 Bowman Phil Rizzuto
There are certain cards that immediately stand out to people. Some people identify with the T-206 Honus Wagner card, easily recognizable as the most expensive baseball card in the hobby. Others chose the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle because it is arguably the most important “modern” card. For me, It’s this 1951 Bowman Phil Rizzuto. Why? Because this was the card I remember from Beckett Baseball Monthly when I was growing up.
I began collecting in 1987, and ripped a fair share of 1987 Topps, and tons of 1988 product before actually purchasing my first price guide. And when I bought my first Beckett at age 8, the first thing I did was look for the oldest set listed. And lo and behold the first vintage card I really set eyes upon was this Rizzuto. The image immediately caught my attention for several reasons, but two really stand out.
First off, it looked nothing like the cards I’d been purchasing. This Rizzuto (which was pictured in black and white) was very subtle, where as brands like 1988 Donruss and Score were very colorful, although ugly by today’s standards. And secondly, this image of Rizzuto fully extended has lots of life in it. It’s not the typical shot of some hitter in the box, a pitcher releasing the ball, or even some ballplayer with his overgrown mullet sticking out from under his cap. It was a New York Yankee in his legendary uniform giving his all in what appears to be a game of catch on the sidelines. When I saw the card, I knew I wanted it.
Fast forward 20 years. One night late last year while doing searches on eBay, I happened to come across this card and it immediately took me back to when I was a kid. I think I shelled out roughly $15 for this particular copy, which may be a lot in some people’ eyes because of its poor condition. But to me, creases and rounded corners aside, this card is priceless.