Friday, August 31, 2012

My Yankee Collection - 1948 Bowman #14 Allie Reynolds Rookie Card

Here is a look at one of my favorite cards from my Yankee collection - Allie Reynolds' "Rookie" card from the 1948 Bowman set:

Vintage-y Goodness, served up Bronx Style!

The 1948 Bowman set was very limited, at only 48 cards.   This Reynolds card is #14 from the set.   This card is noted as Reynolds' rookie card because the '48 Bowman release was the first major release after the end of World War II.   Therefore, the majority of cards in the set are noted as players' first cards, even though many had played for years - like Reynolds, who came up with the Indians in 1942.   The card's dimensions are 21/16" by 21/2" and the entire set is in black & white.   I managed to find this card in great condition at an unbelievable price!   At 64 years old, this Reynolds is completely crease-free and has some great edges with sharp corners.   As was common for many cards back then,it suffered from a slightly uneven cut but the card really doesn't suffer in its appearance.   Would I care anyways? :)   Here's the back!

What the Michael Pineda Trade Will [Probably] Never Be...
Here you have the very basic back of those early Bowman releases.   But I still dig them!   The usual biographical numbers are followed by a great summary of Allie's early career and a mention of the great trade that brought Mr. Reynolds to New York - more on that below.   And don't forget to ask for Blony Bubble Gum, The Gum with THREE different flavors :)   Ha!   How sweet is that little ad?   Can you imagine the uproar if card companies loaded up the backs of our modern-day releases with ads?   Here's a quick glance at what this card looks like in a top-loader, just for some size perspective:

I love, love, love this card!   It's a vintage Yankee rookie card of a great player.   I can't swap it for a house....or a car....or even Madden '13, but it's a great piece of history to me and it's in great shape.   I hope I have the chance to find some other good deals on some other cards from this set.   Any time you can take home a card from one of those "First Page" sets (sets on the first page of the price guide)......I think you have something special.

Here's some more about Mr. Reynolds:

Allie Pierce Reynolds was one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League during his playing days.   He began his career with the Cleveland Indians, who were tipped off to his hurling prowess by the baseball coach at Oklahoma A&M - where Allie attended college and lettered in numerous sports until graduating.

Reynolds in Cleveland -note "War Bonds" Ad behind him!

He fought his way through the minor leagues during difficult financial times for the country and was on the verge of retiring from the game out of frustration until he was called up to Cleveland and established himself as an ace for the Indians while their usual #1, Bob Feller, was serving overseas in World War II.   It should be noted that Reynolds took the enlistment physical but was determined to be ineligible for service due to family medical history and some injuries he had suffered while playing sports in college.   Allie Reynolds led the AL in strikeouts in '43 and made a total of 100 starts for the Indians.   Of those times he took the mound as a starting pitcher, Reynolds tossed 41 complete games and had nine shutouts!  

By 1946, Feller had returned to the squad and the club's player/manager Lou Boudreau needed to fill a defensive hole at 2B for the Indians.   He had set his eyes on the Yankees' 2B, Joe Gordon and informed the Yankees' front office man, Lee MacPhail that New York could have any pitcher he wanted - with the exception of Mr. Feller, of course.   Lee sought some counsel from 'ol DiMaggio who advised Lee:

"Take Reynolds.   I'm a fastball hitter, but he can buzz his hard one by me any time he has a mind to." EVERYTHING!

The rest is history and Allie Reynolds became an ace for the Yankees on a staff that included Ed Lopat and Vic Raschi.   By 1949, Allie was the star of a team that won five consecutive league championships - the first squad to ever do so.   For his first 6 seasons as a Yankee, Mr. Reynolds averaged over 232 innings, 17.5 wins and 14 complete games!   He also became the second pitcher in major league history to hurl two no-hitters in one season, joining Johnny Vander Meer who had accomplished the feat in '38.   Notching two no-no's in one season is still the record though the two have been joined more recently by one of my all-time favorites - Virgil Trucks ('52) as well as Nolan Ryan ('73) and Roy Halladay ('10).   Not too shabby, huh?

Allie Reynolds hailed from Oklahoma (like another Yankee legend, don't you know?) and was a member of the Creek Indian Nation.   As was the standard in those days, any ball player of Native American heritage usually garnered the nickname "Chief" from his teammates at some point.   This was no different for Mr. Reynolds, who earned a version of that as "Superchief".   It is pretty widely known that Allie wasn't comfortable with his nickname, usually citing the honor and reverence that was reserved for the title of "Chief" within his Creek Indian culture.   The stories behind this label aren't crystal clear but teammate and eventual AL President, Bobby Brown once noted:

"But for some of you too young to remember, the Santa Fe Railroad at that time had a crack train (call the Superchief) that ran from California to Chicago, and it was known for its elegance, its power and its speed. We always felt the name applied to Allie for the same reasons."

That's quite a compliment.   In fact, I think the only other compliment that I might be MORE impressed by would be some kind words from 'ol Casey Stengel......wait, WHAT?   Stengel had words of praise for this guy?   Why yes, yes he did:

"Reynolds was two ways great, which is starting and relieving, which no one can do like him...He has guts and his courage is simply tremendous."

That's good stuff!   And so were Superchief's career accomplishments, although they never managed to earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame:

  • Six Time All-Star (1945, 1949, 1952, 1953 and 1954)
  • Six Time World Series Champion (1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953)
  • Lifetime Stats: 182-107, 3.30 ERA and 1,423 K's

Maybe most impressive was Reynolds' performance under pressure in the post season.   He was 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA over 77 innings and was the "clinching" pitcher in the '50, '52 and '53 Series.   He made six relief appearances in the World Series and earned either a Win or a Save in every single one of them.   And just to drive the point home - he batted .308 in 26 World Series at-bats.   Yo!   Allie went on to become a very successful business man in the oil industry after retiring due to injuries suffered in a crash of the Yankees team bus during the '54 season.   He passed away in Oklahoma in 1994 at the age of 77.  

Allie "Super Chief" Reynolds was indeed a legendary pitcher for my favorite team back in the very first days of baseball's golden age.   His accomplishments are impressive as is the way in which he apparently lived his life.   I'm really, honored to have his rookie card as a part of my New York Yankee baseball card collection.

Thank for reading!


  1. Very cool card! I don't have any that old!

  2. That is a great card. I love that set. I have been lucky enough to pick up 10 of the 14 Giants over the past year or two. I love the Reynolds photo on your card and great bio!