Prior to the 2010 season, this was the last Giants team to win the World Series, sweeping the Indians. This was the World Series that Willie Mays made his catch that put him on the map. Willie Mays was the star of this team and the pitching was led by Johnny Antonelli.
The 1954 Collector
So far covering the early 1980s sets, the player selection for the main three sets can be summed up as follows: put together the starting lineup, starting rotation, and the top relievers from the previous season. These players will be in all three sets. After that Topps would go a little deeper on the bench simply because they had more cards in their set. You could collect just the Topps set in 1983, and get a pretty good idea who the main players were in MLB the year before. This wasn't the case in 1954. Card companies signed players to exclusive contracts, so if a person collected just Topps cards, they wouldn't get a Mickey Mantle card that year. If they collected the Bowman card set, they wouldn't get a Hank Aaron. Stan Musial came in neither set.
Purpose of this Project
So what is the purpose of this side project? To determine who maybe had the better set and determine a little about the player selection. There are two things I am going to keep score of here...the number of starters (at least 225 plate appearances in 1954), starting pitchers (at least 75 innings pitched in 1954), and top relief pitchers (at least 45 innings pitched) for each team in each set. I know as a collector opening up individual packs in say 1985, I probably cared more for getting a card of a player like Larry Herndon, one of the key players on the 1980s Tigers, than collectors in other parts of the country.
At the same time, I knew getting a Pete Rose or Dwight Gooden card (regardless of how their careers and lifes panned out) at the time was a big deal, even though they played on other teams. So I will keep track of Hall-of-Famers and 1954 All-Stars in each set.
Here are the scores for the Giants:
Exclusive players to that set are in italics
Topps Regulars (9): Wes Westrum, Hank Thompson, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Johnny Antonelli, Ruben Gomez, Don Liddle, Hoyt Wilhelm
Bowman Regulars (11): Wes Westrum, Whitey Lockman, Davey Williams, Hank Thompson, Al Dark, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Ray Katt, Johnny Antonelli, Sal Maglie, Hoyt Wilhelm
Topps All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (5): Johnny Antonelli, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Hoyt Wilhelm
Bowman All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (5): Johnny Antonelli, Al Dark, Willie Mays, Don Mueller, Hoyt Wilhelm
In conclusion, Topps had four more Giants on the Giants roster and Bowman had three others not listed above. Bowman has just two more regulars than Topps. Neither company had a card for Marv Grissom, who was an all-star in 1954 or Leo Durocher who was the Hall-of-Fame manager. I would say both companies were pretty even on putting out 1954 Giants. Then, like now, New York was probably a key market to get into, so Bowman probably did their best to keep up with Topps, which was based in the New York area. We'll have two more New York based teams to compare.
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