Warren Spahn (1921-2003) won 363 games in a career that included four years away with the US army as he participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the taking of the bridge at Remagen.
A 17-time All-Star, he was a World Series champion in 1957, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1973.
Here’s a roundup with some of the best Warren Spahn rookie cards, as we look at some great vintage 1940’s sets in detail.
The Best Warren Spahn Rookie Cards
Spahn entered the major leagues in 1942 at the age of 20. Due to WWII, collectors had to wait for a couple of years after his return in 1946 to see the release of his true rookie card.
3. 1947-1966 Exhibits Warren Spahn (eBay)
These memorable tallboy Exhibits cards could be found in vending machines for almost two decades, beginning in 1947. The image shows Spahn showing off the grip he used for his famous fastball. You’ll find his name in white at the bottom, and it uses a full-bleed design.
2. 1948-1949 Leaf Warren Spahn RC #32 (eBay)
1948-49 Leaf is a vintage post-war set that was cutting-edge at the time. It’s easy to see why, as the set infused color into collectible baseball cards, while adding upgrades like the name tag seen at the bottom. Measuring 2-3/8″ by 2-7/8″, they also feature the player’s biographical info and a brief write-up.
It was the first post-World War II set to feature color pictures, after restrictions on supplies like ink and cardboard were eased. Higher grades will feature deeper colors and sharper corners. Centering is often an issue for older cards as they were sometimes printed off-kilter.
1. 1948 Bowman Baseball Warren Spahn RC #18 (eBay)
Compare the colorful Leaf card to the standard 1948 Bowman release. Of course, there’s no denying that 1948 Bowman Baseball is a massively important set within the hobby.
The cards are smaller than modern options, using simple black and white images of the best players from the era.
Once again, this card is often prefered to the earlier 1947 Homogenized Bond Bread release, mostly due to brand recognition. The flagship Bowman RC features Warren Spahn in a simple profile shot, shown from side on.
Warren Spahn Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
We’ve put together a brief buyer’s guide looking at the best Warren Spahn rookie cards.
Given the age and the values at the upper end, we’d stick with graded versions to be sure of the legitimacy of the cards in question.
Vintage Warren Spahn cards aren’t the most expensive options if you’re looking at lower grades. Are love the colorful look of the Leaf card, which can be found for less than $500 if you’re looking at an EX-5 from PSA.
The 1948 Bowman Baseball set can’t be beaten in terms of prestige, even if the Leaf set is preferable in terms of overall design. In truth, you can’t go wrong with either of the options released back in ‘48.
Warren Spahn Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
Spahn still holds the major league record as the winningest left-handed pitcher. He has the most victories by a pitcher who played his entire career in the post-1920 live-ball era. His vintage cards are a safe investment option within the hobby, even if they’re not as exciting as modern options with autos and tiny print runs.