George Halas Rookie Card

George Halas, better known as “Papa Bear” is one of the NFL’s pioneers. He was founder and owner of the Chicago Bears which started in 1920 and played an important part in establishing the Chicago Bears as an NFL team.

He is also the first coach to hold daily practice sessions, the first to analyze film of opposing teams in an effort to find weaknesses in them. Known as a disciplinarian he had little to no tolerance with players who were insubordinate. He also demanded absolute integrity and honesty within the management ranks.

His impact on the game was so substantial that in 1997 he was featured on an US Postal Service stamp as one of the all-time greats. He’s been recognized by ESPN as one of the most influential people in sports. Today, if you look at current players on the Chicago Bears the initials “GSH” are on the upper left sleeves in honor of George Stanley Halas. And in 1956 the US Navy awarded him the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, which is the Navy’s highest civilian award. He served three different terms with the US Navy.

He also introduced the NFL to the T-Formation Offense which helped them win many games including a championship game in 1940 against the Washington Redskins. Bears won 73-0! To this day the most lop-sided victory in NFL history. The Chicago Bears of the 1940’s had such an intimidating presence they were known as, The Monsters of the Midway, much in part to the leadership of George Halas.

A few things I found interesting about George Halas: he played right field for the New York Yankees May 6, 1919 – July 5, 1919. I’m assuming he figured out baseball wasn’t in the cards (pun intended) but perhaps found greater purpose in football. In 1982 one of his final executive decisions was to hire one of his former players as Head Coach, that coach was Mike Ditka which lead the Bears to a Super Bowl Championship in 1985, he played for Halas in the 1960’s. And in the 1971 the film Brian’s Song, which was about the friendship of Chicago Bears players Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, Halas was portrayed by Jack Warden, who won an Emmy Award for his performance.


1952 Bowman, Card #48 (shop eBay)


In 1952 the Bowman Gum Company based out of Philidelphia, released two separate football sets a “Large” which measures 2-1/2″ x 3-3/4″ (pictured above) and a “Small” set which measures 2-1/16″ x 3-1/8.” They were Identical in quantity each set contained 144 cards, no difference in design either, the only difference being the size of the card. This was done to compete with the success of their rival Topps Co. The 52 Bowman Football Large was an experiment. When Topps released their premier 1952 baseball set the cards were bigger than the Bowman brand and collectors were drawn to them like a magnet. Bowman realized this and quickly released the 52 Bowman Football in a larger size and they continued to do so until 1955, which was the year Topps bought out Bowman.

This set is beloved by football card collectors everywhere. It’s viewed as the set of all sets to have. The card front displays a beautiful painting of featured player. A pennant runs across the bottom of card giving us full name. And check out that team logo! It’s an actual bear with a football tucked under his arm. Can anyone say vintage. The card back is not as colorful but gives us player bio and commentary.

Caution: be careful purchasing cards from this set in raw condition because they have been counterfeited, it’s important to really do your homework. As of the date of this post low end graded copies (1-3’s) can be purchased for $20.00-$80.00; mid-grade copies (4-6’s) sell between $70.00-$235.00 and higher end graded copies (7-9’s) sell in the $300.00-$5,000.00 range.

Pro Football Hall of Fame. “2013 George Halas Award PWFA” Digital Image. Pro Football Writers of America. (accessed January 4, 2017)
Wikipedia contributors, “George Halas,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 4, 2017)
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