Card of the Day: 1949 Bowman Kirby Higbe

Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day is a first appearance for a player, from a set we have checked out a few times. Pitcher Kirby Higbe was acquired by the Pirates from the Brooklyn Dodgers on this date in 1947. It was an odd deal of sorts. The Pirates were originally just purchasing multiple players. Then Pirates outfielder Al Gionfriddo became part of the deal. It ended up including five players going from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh, while the Pirates sent $100,000 and Gionfriddo to the Dodgers. One of the players in the deal was Dodgers pitcher Hank Behrman, who did so poorly in Pittsburgh, that he was soon sold back to the Dodgers for a good portion of the original sale price.

Higbe was the best player acquired by the Pirates in that trade. He won 118 games in the majors over 12 seasons, while being selected to two All-Star games. He did that despite giving up two years in his prime to the war effort during WWII. Higbe was on the back-end of his career by the time he joined the Pirates. He stayed around until the early part of the 1949 season, when he was traded to the New York Giants. The Pirates cut ties at the right time, as he had just two wins left in his career.

Higbe had three card options with the Pirates. I didn’t exactly choose the 1949 Bowman set specifically to feature. It was just that the other two sets didn’t have the best options for scans to use, so I had to use this set. This card actually uses the same photo as his 1948 Leaf card, while the third option is from the rare 1947 Tip Top Bread set. This card is #215 in the set of 240 cards.

Here’s the front of the card:

While I’m not a huge fan of the look of this set, I do appreciate the historical significance. This set has the rookie cards of ten Hall of Fame players (if you ignore regional sets). The cards of Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige are both extremely popular with collectors, while the Stan Musial card also gets big bucks. The cards are based off of black and white photos that were colorized, so they all look just a bit off like this one here.

The backgrounds are just a plain one-color look. They used various colors in the set, with different colors being used within team sets as well. You can find Pirates players with red, light blue and yellow backgrounds, as well as variations on the colors. I’m not sure if that was a quality control issue, or some of the dark blues are supposed to be darker blues. Not all of the cards in the set have the player name on front.

Here’s the back of the card:

The backs of these cards have my favorite mail-in offer I believe. It’s a plastic baseball with plastic players. They tell you that it can be used as a bank, just in case you always wait for permission to use objects as a bank. They also say it’s a “swell ornament for the den”, telling you a specific room in your house where it can be displayed. Then at the end, you might not even be able to get it if your state doesn’t allow products to be bought through the mail. You can’t still get this unfortunately. They were smart enough to put an expiration date.

The giveaway ad took up more than half of the card. That left a little room for a poorly worded bio section, as well as the important stuff, like height, weight, birthplace, etc.

If you are interested in this card, Ebay has 27 options as of the time of this writing. They range in price from $15 for a very low grade copy, to $165 for a PSA 6. There are two other PSA 6 options for $135ish each, then it drops down to $72 for a PSA 5. Decent commons ungraded are mostly in the $25-$40 range, with a little more for nicer ones. You have a few options under $25 as well.