George Mikan was the NBA’s first big man. Standing 6’ 10” tall, the late Basketball Hall of Famer helped redefine the center position during his glory years playing for the Minneapolis Lakers. Mikan broke the mold, so to speak, and along with his emergence as the NBA’s top draw during the league’s early days, regional distributions of the man’s likeness were being distributed for the team’s growing legion of fans. One such offering came in the early ‘50s by way of Scott’s Potato Chips of Minneapolis.
An incredibly rare complete set of all 13 cards from the seldom seen 1950-51 Scott’s Potato Chip regional issue featuring players from the defending NBA World Champion Minneapolis Lakers is currently up for bid as SCP Auctions.
The card fronts feature a black-and-white drawing of each player set against a light blue background with a facsimile autograph below. A prominent Scott’s logo is also placed on the front of each card. The card backs boast detailed biographies along with an ad for obtaining game tickets and possibly even a signed team photo of the Lakers. It was an early example of a basketball redemption card operation but not a program true card collectors would ever embrace. Nevertheless many youngsters at that time turned their cards in for some of these prizes, thus making the population of cards that may have survived even smaller.
All cards within the offered set have been graded by SGC including the only card of Bobby Doll that’s ever been analyzed by the company. It’s the highest graded set on the SGC Registry.
“This set is the definition of rare,” said SCP Auctions President David Kohler. “These cards were only distributed in Minneapolis some 70 years ago and only through potato chip bags, so you can imagine there’s just not that many around.”
For its part, PSA has graded only 78 1950-51 Scott’s Lakers cards.
In the case of the sought-after Mikan #9 card, the front shows a drawing of Mikan in the same pose that was used for his coveted 1948 Bowman card where he is running and leaning a bit to the right as he dribbles a basketball. The back of the card includes this informational nugget about Mikan: “The key to his success is sleep. He gets 12 hours a night.”
While George was getting plenty of shut-eye, teammate Bud Grant was keeping one eye on professional football. He’d later become much more famous as the coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Grant’s card is part of the set.
Mikan’s Lakers were the NBA’s first dynasty, winning five titles in six seasons from 1948-49 through 1953-54.
While single cards and partial sets of the 1950-51 Scott’s issue do appear at auction occasionally, it’s rare for a complete set to surface.
Bidding for the set is approaching $8,000 with less than a week to go in the auction. It’s expected to go much higher. A single of just the Mikan card, graded EX 5.5 by PSA, is also being offered as a separate lot and is currently at $4,716. Online bidding closes on June 10 at www.scpauctions.com.