You might think that the first Drake’s Cakes baseball cards were the inaugural Big Hitters issue in 1981 that became popular during the hobby boom and ran for eight years.
And you might also think that the first TV-themed baseball cards showed up with Bowman’s wood-grained swan song in 1955.
But you’d think wrong, because the 1950 Drake’s “TV Cards” beat them both to the punch.
Actually, Drake’s issued their first baseball cards waaayyyy back in 1925, when Babe Ruth showed up in a set of their Movie Stars cards. And, it’s certainly possible some super obscure set whipped out a space-age TV design before 1950.
For the coexistence of cakes and TVs in the same year, though? It’s 1950 Drake’s all the way.
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And, if you’re looking for an exemplar of that marriage, it’s hard to beat Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who pops in at number 19.
By that point, Reese had been Da Bums’ guy in the hole since 1941 (and most of 1940), and he’d stay with the team through their move to Los Angeles in 1958. Along the way, he’d develop into a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, and he led the National League in plate appearances and runs scored in 1949.
And that’s how we find him on his lineup-style card in the 1950 Drake’s set. There, he stands (or sits) against a blank wall, facing the camera with a crooked smile. You almost wonder if the “B” on his hat stands for “Bugsy” or some other old-time gangster name.
It’s a simple card, but one that’s not all that easy to find.
Now, the photo is a bit easier to find and might look familiar — you’ll find the same image on Pee Wee’s 1950 Bowman card (in painting form) and his 1950 Royal Desserts issue.
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Hey, when you find a good thing, you stick with it.
Sometimes so much, it becomes a trendsetter.
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