Unless you’re a real historian, you might not realize that Bobby Thomson hit game-winning homers off Ralph Branca in two games of the special 1951 National League playoff. It was Thomson’s two-run blast off Branca in Game 1 that gave the New York Giants a lead in the series. Of course, the one that’s been immortalized happened on October 3, 1951 when Thomson completed a Giants comeback with this game-winning blast.
Thomson was no one-hit wonder…or even a two-hit wonder. He had a long, productive career in baseball that lasted part of three decades.
Here’s a look at five great Bobby Thomson baseball cards to add to your collection
1947 Homogenized/Bond Bread
1947 was Thomson’s rookie year and this is the first baseball card ever issued of the Scottish-born outfielder. The originals had rounded corners and measured 2 ¼” x 3 3/8”. Thomson is considered a single print and not easy to find although there are usually one or two on eBay.
Thomson batted .283 with 29 home runs and 82 runs batted in (RBI) in his rookie year, earning a job he’d enjoy in one way or another for the next 13 years.
People were talking about Thomson long before his famous homer. In 1949, he enjoyed a career year with highs in average (.309) and RBI (109), earning the second of his three trips to the All-Star Game.
His card was in the first series (#18) and the back gives a neat summary of his career to date, including his climb through the minor leagues. You can find a decent looking example for under $40.
Obviously, if you’re buying Bobby Thomson, you want a card from 1951 and this full-length painted image is really nice. It’s also the only Thomson card from that historic season. Here’s a fun fact: Thomson hit 32 homers during the 1951 regular season so it wasn’t a shock to see him reach the stands of the Polo Grounds in October.
Again, you can land one of these in ungraded but very respectable form for about $30, sometimes less.
Both Bowman and Topps made reference to his playoff homer on the backs of his 1952 cards but the image used on the Bowman card is far superior to the “in your face” Topps shot and the story of the homer is told better on Bowman. Another fun fact: Thomson led the National League in triples that year.
He’s the #2 card in the set and it’s not very expensive.
His career success peaked in the early 50s and Thomson began to become “well traveled” as the decade went on. A broken ankle in spring training 1954 led to Hank Aaron being inserted in the Milwaukee Braves lineup and he also spent time with the Cubs and Red Sox (and came back to the Giants in ’57) before ending his career with the Orioles in 1960.
His last Topps card shows him as a member of the Bosox and is the cheapest card in our list of five with a buck or two being all you need to put the bow on Bobby’s big league career.