Old School Ink: A Look Back in Time – 1948 Leaf Al “Ox” Wistert

By Brian Bennett
July 29, 2016

The 1948 Leaf football set is a very curious and historical set that is still highly sought out by collectors nearly seven decades later. Leaf and Bowman were the first cards produced after the end of WWII and both products would be released in 1948. Leaf had a total of 98 cards split up into two series (1-49 and 50-98), and it is believed that the second series had a much shorter print run, making it more scarce.

The ’48 Leaf cards are not the same size as your typical cards of today, as they measure at 2 3/8” by 2 7/8”. Overall, I am a fan of the design of these, as they feature bold colors of red, blue and yellow backgrounds with a thick white border. Each player is cut out and shown in bright colored jerseys and helmets, while their skin tone remains in black and white. Some cards are printed on a white cardstock, while others were printed on a more grey stock.

Several players in this set have a nickname accompanied to their name at the bottom of the card, which I think is fun. Without looking at the card and just reading a description of it, it seems a little too “bold” from a design perspective, but it actually comes together quite well and “works”, although I am not a fan of the font. This set is not perfect, several errors and misspellings have been reported, and many of these cards were badly mis-cut or off-centered. They did add some cool elements like color variations of jerseys, numbers, ect. The card shown on this page comes in yellow and a more rare green jersey variation.

Which brings me to my next topic, Mr. Al Wistert. Wistert is card #28 in the set, and like stated above, comes in a yellow and green jersey variation. I find this card very strange, as it nicknames him “Whitey” instead of “Ox”. Maybe this is an error, as Whitey was his oldest brother, Francis’ nickname.  This, like many of the players in this set, is Al’s rookie card, although he had been in the league since ’43.

wistert

“Ox” was the youngest of the three Wistert Brothers (Francis, Alvin and Albert). All three brothers were tackles at the University of Michigan and each wore number 11. Al “Ox” Wistert would go on to be drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 1943 draft. Al had an illustrious NFL career that spanned over nine years and he is regarded as one of the greatest players to ever put on an Eagles jersey. Like many of the players of that era, he played both sides of the ball as a “60 minute man” and was an elite tackle.

He was named to the All-Pro team eight times(before the days of the Pro Bowl), and was selected to play in the first ever Pro Bowl in 1950. A two-time NFL Champion and captain of the Eagles team, he would end his career in 1951. Honors include being named to the All 1940’s NFL team and his #70 has been retired by the Eagles. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Eagles Hall of Fame. I personally think it is a travesty that Wistert has not yet been named a member of the NFL Hall of Fame with his list of achievements. Sadly, Mr. Wistert passed away earlier this year on March 5, 2016 at the age of 95.

At 68 years old, this card is the oldest in my collection and another one of my personal favorites. Al was so kind as to sign my card nicely in ball point pen and included his nickname, “Ox”. I am thankful to have the opportunity to add this card, and his signature to my collection.

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