1948 Leaf Baseball

In 1948 Baseball had two competing releases: Bowman and Leaf.

Compared to their counterpart Bowman, Leaf designs really stood out. They were the first post-World War II sports set to feature color images on them. Each card front features a player against a colored background that is either solid or two-tone. The player’s name appears listed below a photo in a solid-colored box. They were also slightly larger than the Bowman release. 

On the back, you can find the card number, player information, and an ad for All-Star Baseball Gum.

The release is led by rookie cards for: Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Stan Musial, Hal Newhouser, and Larry Doby; veterans like Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio; and retired superstars like Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner.

The packed checklist is even more enhanced by short-prints that occupy nearly half the set. This makes the common players desirable as many collectors want the full set.

Were they printed in 48 or 49

Hobbyists have long argued specifics about 1948-49 Leaf Baseball. Since the cards include both 1948 and 1949 copyright dates on them, they can be viewed as a two-year release. 

Some collectors, however, contend that they are a 1949 issue because nearly all have details about the 1948 season on them. The grading companies label them differently as well. PSA says they are 1948 whereas BVG (Beckett) says 1949. 

The year confusion leads to gray areas when assigning a few different rookie cards. This affects players in the Leaf set who also have a rookie in 1948 or 49 Bowman. For example, Stan Musial has a 48 Bowman, and Jackie Robinson has a 49 Bowman.

How many cards are in the set?

If you thought the year was the only confusing part of this set, you would be wrong. The card numbering is complicated. 

The cards are skip-numbered from 1-168. For example for cards 1-10 you have the following:

1 Joe DiMaggio

3 Babe Ruth

4 Stan Musial

5 Virgil Trucks

8 Satchel Paige

10 Paul Trout

Numbers 2, 6, 7, and 9 are all missing. So instead of a total of 168 expected cards, you are down to 98 to complete the set. 

There is no consistency to the numbers that are missing, so good luck recognizing any patterns. 

No one knows if this was a false scarcity tactic to sell more packs or if they simply had planned a later release and never went through with it.

Noteable Cards

1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson #79

Many assume that this is the first Jackie Robinson card printed. While it is highly regarded as his rookie (along with 49 Bowman), he has earlier cards in 1947 Bond Bread. This was his first major release. 

Prices for the card are incredibly high and will continue to hold strong as Jackie’s impact on baseball and the world are extraordinary. Just 1 year earlier to this release, he broke MLB’s color barrier and helped bring more African Americans to major US sports. 

A PSA 2 in this card is averaging above $10,000 with a peak close to $20,000. This was grabbed from Market Movers. Get your first month for $1 using code BREAKOUT

1948 Leaf Larry Doby #138

Larry Doby broke the American Leagues’ color barrier a few months after Jackie made his MLB Debut. Unlike Robinson, the Doby rookie is an SP, however, it doesn’t command the same value of the Doby Card.

A Jackie Robinson is worth at a minimum 4x of the Doby yet there are close to 1600 graded Robinson’s compared to 160 of the Doby

1948 Leaf Satchel Paige #8

Satchel Paige was Negro Leagues greatest pitcher.

He was such a good player, he would tell his outfielders to come in early as he knew he would strike out a batter. He finally got his chance at the big leagues at the age of 42.

At the time, this made him the oldest rookie to debut in the league. He also ended up being the oldest player as well when he pitched 3 innings in 1965 at the age of 58.

The Satchel Paige rookie is the holy grail of this set. It combines everything the previous cards had: ridiculous demand and being a SP. Also its 1 of 3 playing day cards. His only other cards are from 1949 Bowman and 1953 Topps.

Expect to pay $20,000+ for even a PSA 1.

1948 Leaf Babe Ruth #3

This card was issued shortly after Babe Ruth’s death. He had passed away at the age of 53 from cancer in August, 1948 which made it a really desirable card to collect.

It’s just as expensive as some of the 1920s strip cards of Ruth. This probably makes this the most expensive base card of a retired player.

1948 Leaf John (Honus) Wagner #70

While this card isn’t worth a lot, it has an interesting story. The card shows Honus Wagner using tobacco. Many individuals spread a rumor that Wagner didn’t want a T206 card as he was against tobacco.

This card, however, shows another side to the story. In my opinion, it was a dispute over money as Wagner has other baseball cards in the early 1900s.

1948 Leaf Checklist

1 Joe DiMaggio

3 Babe Ruth

4 Stan Musial

5 Virgil Trucks 

8 Satchel Paige

10 Dizzy Trout

11 Phil Rizzuto

13 Cass Michaels

14 Billy Johnson

17 Frank Overmire

19 Johnny Wyrostek

20 Hank Sauer

22 Al Evans 

26 Sam Chapman

27 Mickey Harris

28 Jim Hearn

29 Elmer Valo

30 Billy Goodman

31 Lou Brissie

32 Warren Spahn

33 Peanuts Lowrey 

36 Al Zarilla SP

38 Ted Kluszewski 

39 Ewell Blackwell

42 Kent Peterson

43 Ed Stevens 

45 Ken Keltner

46 Johnny Mize

47 George Vico

48 Johnny Schmidtz

49 Del Ennis

50 Dick Wakefield

51 Alvin Dark

53 Johnny Vander Meer

54 Bobby Adams

55 Tommy Henrich

56 Larry Jansen

57 Bob McCall

59 Luke Appling

61 Jake Early

62 Eddie Joost

63 Barney McCosky

65 Robert Elliott

66 Orval Grove 

68 Eddie Miller 

70 Honus Wagner

72 Hank Edwards 

73 Pat Seerey 

75 Dom DiMaggio 

 

76 Ted Williams

77 Roy Smalley 

78 Hoot Evers

79 Jackie Robinson 

81 Whitney Kurowski 

82 Johnny Lindell

83 Bobby Doerr

84 Sid Hudson

85 Dave Philley 

86 Ralph Weigel 

88 Frank Gustine 

91 Ralph Kiner

93 Bob Feller

95 George Stirnweiss

97 Marty Marion

98 Hal Newhouser 

102 Gene Hermanski

104 Bud Stewart 

106 Lou Boudreau 

108 Matt Batts 

111 Jerry Priddy

113 Dutch Leonard 

117 Joe Gordon

120 George Kell 

121 Johnny Pesky 

123 Cliff Fannin 

125 Andy Pafko 

127 Enos Slaughter 

128 Buddy Rosar

129 Kirby Higbe 

131 Sid Gordon 

133 Tommy Holmes 

136 Cliff Aberson 

137 Harry Walker 

138 Larry Doby 

139 Johnny Hopp 

142 Danny Murtaugh 

143 Dick Sisler 

144 Bob Dillinger 

146 Pete Reiser 

149 Hank Majeski

153 Floyd Baker 

158 Harry Brecheen 

159 Mizel Platt 

160 Bob Scheffing 

161 Vern Stephens 

163 Fred Hutchinson 

165 Dale Mitchell 

168 Phil Cavaretta 

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