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Sunday, April 17, 2011

1951 Berk Ross "Hit Parade Of Champions" Al Rosen

Before stumbling upon a couple of these while aimlessly searching eBay, I had never heard of this set. The few I found online were well out of my league. Of the two presently on eBay, one has a BIN (or Best Offer) price of $180 - and is PSA graded with an 8 mark - while the second is still attached to the Phil Rizzuto from the set, has a BIN price of $200, and also checks in at a PSA 8.

However, eBay always seems to come through, and it did so once again. I found one with a starting bid of $4.99, and after a moment of thought I placed a bid. As card fate would have it, I was the only bidder, and took it down for a grand total, once shipping was factored in, of $7.58.



Some info on the set:
In 1951, the Berk Ross Corp. of New York City issued a set of 72 cards featuring stars from several different sports. While not specifically meant to directly compete with Bowman (like the upstart Topps Chewing Gum Company did in the same year), the set, sometimes called the "Hit Parade of Champions" set, was issued in two-card panels on boxes. Though more than half of the set's cards show baseball players, there are also football and basketball players, boxers, golfers, figure skaters, Olympic athletes and even a few women athletes. Among notable non-baseball subjects are Jesse Owens, Jake LaMotta, "Sugar" Ray Robinson, Ben Hogan and Dick Button.

Card fronts feature a color painting of an athlete surrounded by a white border and a thin black line separating the two. Card backs feature the player's vitals (birth date, home town, height, weight, etc.) and a single line of statistics from the 1950 season. At the top, above the player's name and team, is written "Hit Parade of Champions 1951". The card number and Berk Ross trademark are located at the bottom.

The set, which is complete at 72 cards, was issued in 4 series of 18 cards each (numbered 1-1 through 1-18, then 2-1 through 2-18, and so on). The first 10 cards in each series feature baseball players. Although they were issued as 2-card panels, they are seldom found intact and carry a nice premium if found that way.

The checklist below features all 72 cards in the set. Baseball collectors consider the set complete at 40 cards, but it's up to individual collectors to decide whether to go for a truly "complete" set. Like 1933 Sport Kings, this set is inclusive of a wide variety of sports and even goes a little farther in that it has more of a racial balance; however, collectors have found the design less attractive and haven't searched out the cards as avidly.
It's a welcome addition to my Rosen collection, which I'll have listed at the top of the blog at some point in the hopefully near future.

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I've been meaning to do this for months now, but never got around to it. Congrats are due to Dusto, who defeated me in the two-week final of the inaugural PTSIA Fantasy Baseball League last year. The first season is thus far the only one, as I did not create a league this year. Maybe in the future there will be a season two.

Again, great job Dusto, and sorry for the lateness of the congratulations!

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