The second season the Braves play in Milwaukee after moving west from Boston leads to an 89 win season. This was 3 games worse than the previous season, but no cause for alarm as they were on their way to winning the World Series in 1957 and the NL Pennant in 1958 with largely the same core of players. The offense was led by third baseman Eddie Mathews who slugged 40 home runs and 103 RBIs. The pitching was led by 21 game winner Warren Spahn.
Hank Aaron - The true home run king?
A 20 year old Hank Aaron made his debut on this team, chipping in 18 home runs. He had solid mid-20 HR seasons the next two season, but broke through with a 44 home run season in 1957. I was almost thinking that this may have been the card that saved Topps as he does not have a card in the Bowman set (more on that later) as it is probably one of the most iconic cards in the history of Topps, but I think in 1954 this card wouldn't have been as sought after as it would be in later years.
Speaking of Aaron, I was watching MLB Network yesterday and they had on a show called the "50 Most Memorable Moments in Baseball History". Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's record in 1974 came in second. The moment when the actual current home run record was set by Barry Bonds came in at something like 42. This seems really odd to me. I know Barry isn't the most well liked guy in the game and there is the whole steroids issue nobody making these lists probably wants to touch, but I wonder if Aaron breaking the record being more "memorable" having something to do with the fact that in 1974, there were no round the clock baseball networks, or even sports networks. The ratings were probably WAY higher than they were for Bonds home run on just that alone. It has also been rerun for the last 40 years with Aaron running around the bases and the two hippy guys running up and patting him on the back...it is burned into most fans memory. I wonder if in twenty years if there still be that big of difference in how the two home runs are remembered.
By the way, the number one most memorable moment was Bobby Thomson's home run in 1951 for the Giants. He just so happens to also play for the 1954 Braves.
Johnston Cookies was a Wisconsin based company that issued baseball cards in bags of cookies. I am pretty sure with my crack research that this company is not around to this day. They produced a nice set of Milwaukee Braves cards from 1953-1955. In 1954 the cards measured 1-3/4" x 3 1/2" and in good condition are very white. I am not a Braves fan, but I really wish I had this set as it is very attractive. This set allows us to pretty much make an entire set of 1954 Milwaukee Braves. Between all of the sets, there are only two Braves who don't have cards. We even get cards of the teams trainers and doctors. Players who only have cards in the Johnston Cookies set are noted with (BJ) in the checklist below.
Starter and Hall-of-Fame/All-Star Scores
Exclusive players to a set are in italics
Topps Regulars (11): Del Crandall, Eddie Mathews, Johnny Logan, Hank Aaron, Bill Bruton, Andy Pafko, Warren Spahn, Gene Conley, Dave Jolley, Ray Crone, Bob Buhl
Bowman Regulars (10): Del Crandall, Joe Adcock, Danny O'Connell, Eddie Mathews, Johnny Logan, Bill Bruton, Andy Pafko, Lew Burdette, Jim Wilson, Ernie Johnson
Topps All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (5): Hank Aaron, Del Crandall, Gene Conley, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn
Bowman All-Stars & Hall-of-Famers (3): Del Crandall, Eddie Mathews, Jim Wilson
Finally, a team that Topps has a big advantage over Bowman with as they beat them in both scores. Eddie Mathews was the big name for the Braves in 1954, and he is in both sets, but Topps has the only cards for top tier hall-of-famers Hank Aaron and Warren Spahn. Chet Nichols, the fifth starter for this team, is the only regular who doesn't have a card in either set, but you can pick up his card in the Johnston Cookies set.
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