Friday, July 15, 2011

Adding to Satch's Bowman legacy

Yesterday I showed you the 1952 Topps-style Satchel Paige card I created. Today I present my vision of what Bowman might have done if it had followed up its 1949 Paige "rookie card."

Paige didn't appear in the 1950 Bowman set because he dropped out of Organized Baseball that season. When Bill Veeck was forced to sell his ownership interest in the Cleveland Indians in a divorce settlement, Paige decided he wouldn't play in the major leagues for anybody else and spent the 1950 season with the Philadelphia Stars of the Negro Leagues and barnstorming around the country.

When Veeck got back into baseball with his purchase of the St. Louis Browns in 1951, he was able to coax Satch back into the ranks. Like Veeck, Paige remained in the bigs until the Browns were sold to Baltimore interests and became the Orioles in 1954.

For whatever reason, Bowman didn't include Paige in its 1951-53 sets. I've tried my hand at what 1951 and 1952 Bowman cards might have looked like.

I began with a black-and-white chest to cap photo; from a postcard, if I recall correctly. The photo shows Paige in the new uniform that the Brownies adopted for 1952. Most of the "real" 1952 Topps and Bowman cards still showed the St. Louis players in the old uniform.

My 1952 card came first. For the background I chose Bowman's 1951 Frank Overmire card. I like the brick wall and stadium background. I colorized the photo and dropped in a slightly modified version of Paige's autograph. The best image of his signature that I could find had an underscore almost the entire width of the autograph. On a small card, this was too "busy," so I lost the underscore.

If you compare the biographical data on the backs of my Topps and Bowman Paige cards, you'll see the Sept. 11, 1908, birthdate, rather than July 7, 1906, date found in many "official" sources such as the Total Baseball encyclopedia, the Baseball Almanac and On its 1949 card, Bowman used the Sept. 11, 1908, date. When Topps came out with its first Paige card in 1953, it cited the same birthdate. I chose to side with the card companies.

Part of Paige's lore is that nobody really knows when he was born. He always claimed he did not know and Bill veeck is said to have found proof that he could not have been born later than 1900.

For my 1951 Bowman-style card, I used on the facial portion of my colorized Paige photo, dropping it into the uniform of Hank "Bow Wow" Arft's 1951 Bowman card.

You'll notice that the player paragraphs on the backs of all three of my 1951-52 custom cards are not all that different. I may have laid down on the job a bit with them, but in the very early 1950s, there really wasn't a whole lot to be said about Paige's major league career, and the gum companies didn't delve too deeply into Negro Leagues stats.

While I still have at least two more Satchel Paige customs on my to-do list, I'm going to hold them in abeyance for the time being while I switch gears.

Keep watching this space for all my new customs.

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