After a dark and drab period of American history marked by the Great Depression and World War II, 1948 Leaf baseball cards brought a welcome splash of color and life to the game.

And, after more than a decade that saw almost no cards produced, the new Leaf set was flooded with rookie cards of future Hall of Famers and gave some hope that the hobby might not be dead after all.

Now, there is some disagreement over exactly when these cards were issued, because some of them bear a 1948 copyright, while others show “1949.”

1948 Leaf Dizzy Trout back

As you will see with a couple of the cards below, player selection lend some credence to the 1949 date, as does information about the 1948 season included on some card backs.

Whichever year the Leaf cards they were issued, though, there is little doubt that the colorful set has been popular with collectors for seven decades and that they’ve helped push the first two Bowman issues (1948 and 1949) into the background to some extent.

The Leafs are helped on today’s market by a short print run in general and several cards among the 98-piece checklist that are considered to be short-printed — that is, they were only included on every second print sheet or so.

1948 Leaf Satchel Paige Rookie Card back (1949)

Oh, and to make this set even more interesting, Leaf skip-numbered the cards, so you’ll find numbers ranging from one through 168, but not a card at every number — again, there are 98 different cards in the set.

Unless, of course, you count the multitude of variations that exist in the set.

It can all get a big confusing, but this list of the most valuable 1948 Leaf baseball cards gives you a good flavor of the set and a tour of important early post-War cards.

(Rankings based on PSA 7 card values as listed in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.)

Play ball!

1948 Leaf Satchel Paige Rookie Card (#8)

1948 Leaf Satchel  Paige SP

The presence of the Paige rookie card in the Leaf set argues for a 1949 release date, as Paige didn’t make his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians until July 9, 1948.

No matter when it was issued, though, this Leaf card of the enigmatic Hall of Famer is one of the most popular of all early post-War cards, and its short-printed status makes high-grade copies extremely hard to come by.

As of this writing, in the fall of 2019, PSA had graded 140 Paige RCs in total, and only 32 of them received a score of PSA 7 or better.

No wonder this thing sits at the top of our list with a price tag in the $75,000 range for a graded NM copy … if you could ever even find one.

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1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson Rookie Card (#79)

1948 Leaf Jackie  Robinson

Robinson, of course, changed the game forever when he stepped into the  Brooklyn Dodgers‘ lineup on Opening Day 1947.

Changed the hobby forever, too, as collectors have spent the last 70+ years chasing down Jackie’s cards. 

It all started with this classic Leaf RC, as iconic a Robinson pasteboard as you’ll ever find, and one that will set you back $15,000 or more in graded NM condition.

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1948 Leaf Bob Feller (#93)

1948 Leaf Bob  Feller SP

Do you remember the last time the Cleveland Indians won a World Series?

Yeah, it was 1948, the same year this Feller short-print was issued.

And, even though Rapid Robert lost two games in that Fall Classic, the Indians never would have made it there without his 19 wins in the regular season.

Of course, that total seems sickly compared to some of the others he put up in his career — 24, 27, 25, 26 — and Feller waltzed into Cooperstown on his first ballot in 1962.

This tough issue of the Tribe legend is about a $6500 card in PSA 7.

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1948 Leaf Hal Newhouser Rookie Card (#98)

1948 Leaf Hal  Newhouser SP

While many of his contemporaries were embroiled in World War II, Newhouser helped keep the fires burning on the baseball home front with the Detroit Tigers.

Serving as both a starter and reliever through most of the 1940s, Prince Hal shook off some shaky early seasons to win the American League Most Valuable Player award in both 1944 and 1945.

In that latter season, his 25-9 record helped the Tigers reach the World Series, where they downed the Chicago Cubs in seven games.

Newhouser made it to the Hall on a Veteran’s Committee vote in 1992, and his short-printed ’48 Leaf rookie card sells for $5000+ in PSA 7 these days.

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1948 Leaf Babe Ruth (#3)

1948 Leaf Babe  Ruth

Ruth was in failing health as the 1948 baseball season dawned, and the great slugger passed away on August 16 at the age for 53.

Whether issued in 1948 or 1949, it must have been dramatic and maybe eerie for collectors to pull this card during such a somber time.

Today, the Ruth Leaf card pushes $5000 in PSA 7.

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1948 Leaf Stan Musial Rookie Card (#4)

1948 Leaf Stan  Musial

By the time this card was issued, Musial had already won three World Series titles and two National League MVP awards with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Another MVP would follow in 1948 and, at age 27, Stan the Man had plenty of big moments ahead of him.

He also had his first widely distributed baseball card to enjoy thanks to Leaf, and that RC sells for $4000+ in PSA 7 today.

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1948 Leaf Joe DiMaggio (#1)

1948 Leaf Joe  DiMaggio

DiMaggio, on the other hand, was entering the final stretch of his great career, even if no one realized it yet.

In 1948, though, he turned in his last great full season (.320, 39 home runs, 155 RBI) and finished second in the AL MVP vote to Cleveland shortstop and manager Lou Boudreau.

The Leaf card that accompanied Joltin’ Joe’s big season sells for about $3500 in PSA 7 condition today.

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1948 Leaf Larry Doby Rookie Card (#138)

1948 Leaf Larry  Doby SP

Doby made his debut for the Indians just months after Robinson broke in with the Dodgers, becoming the first black player in the American League in the process.

A year later, Doby appeared on this short-printed rookie card on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Doby’s Leaf RC lines up here at about $3200 (PSA 7).

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1948 Leaf Harry Brecheen Rookie Card (#158)

1948 Leaf Harry  Brecheen SP

Brecheen made his debut for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1940 at age 25, but he didn’t really get rolling until three years later.

Over the next 11 years, though, he would rack up 133 wins and help St. Louis to three World Series, two of which they won.

In the second of those title tilts, 1946, Brecheen won three games, pitching 20 innings and posting a stingy 0.45 ERA against the Boston Red Sox.

In the middle of his Cards run, Brecheen appeared on this short-printed Leaf rookie card, and it’s a $3000 buy today.

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1948 Leaf Phil Cavarretta (#168)

1948 Leaf Phil Cavaretta SP

Cavarretta spent 22 seasons in the Chicago region of the Major Leagues, from 1934 through 1953 with the Cubs and then in 1954 and 1955 with the White Sox.

Across the decades, he turned in several star performances as a first baseman and outfielder, and he even won the NL MVP award and batting title (.355) when the Cubs went to the World Series in 1945.

His placement here, though, owes a lot to this card being short-printed, and it’s enough to garner a $3000 price tag (in PSA 7).

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1948 Leaf Dom DiMaggio (#75)

1948 Leaf Dom  DiMaggio SP

DiMaggio ended up with an interesting lot in his baseball life, since we was the brother of Joe D. and the Red Sox teammate of Ted Williams.

Dom was an All-Star in his own right, though, and his short-print 1948 Leaf card sells for $2000+ in graded NM condition.

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1948 Leaf Ted Williams (#76)

1948 Leaf Ted  Williams

Williams, of course, was one of the greatest hitters ever, and he won his fourth AL batting title in the summer of 1948.

This classic card of the Splendid Splinter accompanied that run and sells for about two grand in slabbed NM condition these days.

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1948 LEAF BASEBALL CARD #53 JOHNNY VANDERMEER EX+/EXMT!!!!!!!!!

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1948 Leaf #117 Joe Gordon

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1948 Leaf Set Break # 29 Elmer Valo VG-VGEX *GMCARDS*

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1948 LEAF Collection of 10 baseball cards - Incredible slice of American history

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1948 Leaf Set Break # 27 Mickey Harris VG-VGEX *GMCARDS*

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