Our 1955 Bowman Football set is pretty phenomenal, as far as autographed sets are concerned. But we’ve also got a pretty spectacular baseball set to offer, a unique one that was created just for autograph collectors, and yet extraordinarily difficult to complete: The 1978 “Grand Slam” baseball set, featuring 201 cards of some of baseball’s all-time greats, all-stars, and local heroes.
In 1978, Donruss photographer Jack Wallin produced a 200-card set of baseball cards, designed as a way for autograph collectors to obtain the signatures of some of the game’s greats. Each of the 2 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ cards are printed in black and white, with the player name printed along the bottom and player biographical information printed on the reverse. Just 2,000 sets were produced.
Before the set was produced, the subject of card #53, outfielder Carl Reynolds, unfortunately passed away at just 75 years of age. Since his passing would make it impossible to complete an autographed set, a second card #53 was produced, but just 500 copies printed – of pitcher Sal Maglie.
Today, just 23 of the set’s 201 players are living. Of the remaining 178, seven (including Reynolds) passed within a year of the set’s production: Reynolds, Rube Walberg, George McQuinn, Dale Alexander, Hal Trosky, Fred Fitzsimmons and Stan Hack.
This set represents an outstanding achievement in autograph collecting: a complete 201-card Grand Slam set, with 199 of the cards signed. 42 of the card’s subjects are members of the Hall of Fame.
In addition to the impossible Reynolds, just the near-impossible George McQuinn card is missing for completion. McQuinn, a seven-time All-Star second baseman, died on Christmas Eve of 1978 at the tender age of 68, meaning he was alive for just a few months after this card was produced. The set’s remaining cards – including the scarce #53 of Sal Maglie – have all been signed.
Autographs included in this set are: Leo Durocher (HOF), Bob Lemon (HOF), Earl Averill (HOF), Dale Alexander, Hank Greenberg (HOF), Waite Hoyt (HOF), Al Lopez (HOF), Lloyd Waner (HOF), Bob Feller (HOF), Guy Bush, Stan Hack, Zeke Bonura, Wally Moses, Fred Fitzsimmons, Johnny Vander Meer, Riggs Stephenson, Bucky Walters, Charlie Grimm, Phil Cavaretta, Wally Berger, Joe Sewell, Edd Roush (HOF), Johnny Mize (HOF), Bill Dickey (HOF), Lou Boudreau (HOF), Bill Terry (HOF), Willie Kamm, Charlie Gehringer (HOF), Stan Coveleskie (HOF), Larry French, George Kelly (HOF), Terry Moore, Billy Herman (HOF), Babe Herman, Carl Hubbell (HOF), Buck Leonard (HOF), Gus Suhr, Burleigh Grimes (HOF), Lew Fonseca, Travis Jackson (HOF), Enos Slaughter (HOF), Fred Lindstrom (HOF), Rick Ferrell (HOF), Cookie Lavagetto, Stan Musial (HOF), Hal Trosky, Hal Newhouser (HOF), Paul Dean, George Halas, Jocko Conlan, Joe DiMaggio (HOF), Bobby Doerr (HOF), Sal Maglie, Pete Reiser, Frank McCormick, Mel Harder, George Uhle, Doc Cramer, Taylor Douthit, Cecil Travis, “Cool Papa” Bell (HOF), Charlie Keller, Bill Hallahan, Debs Garms, Rube Marquard (HOF), Rube Walberg, Augie Galan, George Pipgras, Hal Schumacher, Dolf Camilli, Paul Richards, Judy Johnson (HOF), Frank Crosetti, Peanuts Lowery, Walter Alston (HOF), Dutch Leonard, Marney McCosky, Joe Dobson, George Kell (HOF), Ted Lyons (HOF), Johnny Pesky, Hank Borowy, Ewell Blackwell, Pee Wee Reese (HOF), Monte Irvin (HOF), Joe Moore, Joe Wood, Babe Dahlgren, Bobb Falk, Eddie Lopat, Rip Sewell, Marty Marion, Taft Wright, Allie Reynolds, Harry Walker, Tex Hughson, George Selkirk, Dom DiMaggio, Walker Cooper, Phil Rizzuto (HOF), Robin Roberts (HOF), Joe Adcock, Hank Bauer, Frank Baumholtz, Ray Boone, Smoky Burgess, Walt Dropo, Al Dark, Carl Erskine, Dick Donovan, Dee Fondy, Mike Garcia, Bob Friend, Ned Garver, Billy Goodman, Larry Jansen, Jackie Jensen, Johnny Antonelli, Ted Kluszewski, Harvey Kuenn, Clem Labine, Red Schoendienst (HOF), Don Larsen, Vern Law, Charlie Maxwell, Wally Moon, Bob Nieman, Don Newcombe, Wally Post, Johnny Podres, Vic Raschi, Dusty Rhodes, Jim Rivera, Pete Runnels, Hank Sauer, Roy Sievers, Bobby Shantz, Curt Simmons, Bob Skinner, Moose Skowron, Bob Turley, Vic Wertz, Bill Virdon, Gene Woodling, Eddie Yost, Sandy Koufax (HOF), Lefty Gomez (HOF), Al Rosen, Vince DiMaggio, Bill Nicholson, Mark Koenig, Max Lanier, Ken Keltner, Whit Wyatt, Marvin Owen, Red Lucas, Babe Phelps, Pete Donohue, Johnny Cooney, Glenn Wright, Willis Hudlin, Tony Cuccinello, Bill Bevans, Dave Feriss, Whitey Kurowski, Buddy Hassett, Ossie Bluege, Hoot Evers, Thornton Lee, Spud Davis, Bob Shawkey, Smead Jolly, Andy High, Mickey Vernon, Birdie Tebbetts, Jack Kramer, Don Kolloway, Claude Passeau, Frank Shea, Bob O’Farrell, Bob Johnson, Ival Goodman, Mike Kreevich, Joe Stripp, Mickey Owen, Hugh Critz, Ethan Allen, Billy Rogell, Joe Kuhel, Dale Mitchell, Eldon Auker, Johnny Beazley, Spud Chandler, Ralph Branca, and Joe Cronin (HOF).
This is an incredible set. It contains signed cards from some of the game’s greatest names, like Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Sandy Koufax, and also contains autographs from some of the game’s most beloved players not to enter the Hall of Fame, like Smoky Joe Wood, Pete Runnels, Jackie Jensen and Pete Reiser. It pays tribute to some of the game’s most popular players, as well as some of its forgotten heroes.
Obtaining a complete set of signed 1978 Grand Slam baseball cards is no easy task. Most of the players featured in the set have passed away, so obtaining the signatures through the mail would be impossible. While complete, signed sets must certainly exist (in our research we uncovered one blog where the owner also had a complete set, also with one signature missing), we have never seen one come to auction and cannot locate one online. Therefore, obtaining such a set must be done card-by-card, with great deliberation and great expense. Indeed, this is likely the only opportunity a collector will have to obtain this set autographed without having to undertake the arduous process of tracking down and purchasing 201 individual cards.
An incredible collection of autographed cards, representing some of the greatest names in baseball history, with all but one of 200 possible cards autographed, including 42 Hall of Famers, plus the scarce Sal Maglie and Rube Walberg cards.