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Sunday, May 29, 2011

1954 Red Heart Dog Food Al Rosen SGC 40

The vintage shop I frequent has five of these awesomely unique cards in stock. At the most affordable grade available, they have* two; one slabbed, one raw. I thought it was an easy decision at that point.

*They have one now, obviously (and four overall). Otherwise, I couldn't write this post. Onwards.*

I had never heard of Red Heart before coming upon this Rosen, so I had to do a bit of research. This article was very, very helpful. A couple of key excerpts:
In 1954, Red Heart dog food issued a thirty-three card baseball set containing a number of star players and eventual future Hall of Famers. Whoever was responsible for putting together such a great collection of players in such a small set certainly did an outstanding job. The fact that Stan Musial is in the set speaks volumes because neither of the baseball card company big shots, Topps or Bowman, could land Stan the Man. According to Stan himself, the reason neither card company had him in their sets was simply the fact they did not want to pay him what he wanted, yet Red Heart was more than happy to divvy up. Mickey Mantle is also in the Red Heart set, and like Musial he too is missing from the 1954 Topps set due to the bubble gum contractual war going on between Bowman and Topps.
The 1954 Red Heart baseball card set has a catalog designation of F156 and consists of three series of eleven unnumbered cards measuring 2 5/8" x 3 ¾" that could be ordered from Red Heart through the mail by sending in two dog food can labels along with ten cents for each colored series. One could occasionally find a mail-in offer for the cards in the Sunday comic section of the local newspaper during the baseball season. The front of the cards offer a classic portrait photo which is framed by a surrounding white border. Whoever was responsible for the photo selection did a very good job by choosing quality close-ups that fill out the cards nicely. The players name is centered inside a yellow, red or blue colored diamond shaped box, and below the players name box inside the lower white border in black letters is the full team name. The card back is grey and black in color and put together in five sections. The top section contains the player's full name, his position, and the team he plays for centered between two baseballs. The next section, which I will call section two, contains a very nice informative description of the player's career highlights. The middle of the card back is divided into two sections, on the left is the player's bio and to the right is the player's 1953 statistics, along with his lifetime statistics. The final and lower section contains the Red Heart logo inside a heart and the words "The Big League Dog Food" with the John Morrell & Co. copyright below it.
The three different series colors, determined by the background color on the card front, are blue, green, and red. The blue series players are Gus Bell, Billy Cox, Ferris Fain, Nellie Fox, Harvey Kuehn, Mickey Mantle, Minnie Minoso, Billy Pierce, Enos Slaughter, Sammy White, and Eddie Yost. The green series players are Alvin Dark, Dee Fondy, Jim Gilliam, George Kell, Sherman Lollar, Billy Martin, Roy McMillian, Hank Sauer, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, and Gus Zernial. The red series cards are believed to be scarcer and consist of Richie Ashburn, Frank Baumholtz, Carl Erskine, Jim Hegan, Ralph Kiner, Ted Kluszewski, Bob Lemon, Gil McDougald, Stan Musial, Al Rosen, and Red Schoendienst. Depending on whether one could mail-order the series of their choice, it has been argued that if so, then the red series should not be scarcer because Stan Musial is in the series with four other future Baseball Hall of Famers, making it a more desirable series to order. The green set would logically be the scarcer series because it lacks the two best cards in the set in Mantle and Musial. This all makes sense "if" one could choose the series of their choice to order, if not, then the short print designation is validated which can be backed up by the PSA population report for 1954 Red Heart red series cards. This as of print date, the population report shows a total of 4,048 Red Heart cards having been submitted for grading with the breakdown by color series as follows: 1,532 blue series or 38% of all graded cards, 1,368 green series or 34%, and 1,147 red series or 28%. Out of the 4,048 cards submitted for grading, Mickey Mantle cards account for a majority 538 of that total or 13% of all cards submitted, while Stan Musial card submissions rank a distant second at 213 total cards or 5%.

This is by far the rarest and most unique card in my Al Rosen collection.


  1. This is a great set and very affordable for a '54 issue. Something the article you showed didn't mention was that they were widely available for many years after they were produced. My recollection is that you could still get the cards directly from the dog food company up until the early 70's.

  2. I didn't know that. That's pretty cool. If only they were somehow still around haha.

    If only.

    This set is so tempting to put together. I think I'll probably end up giving it a shot one day.

    Thanks for the info Ernest!