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1941 Play Ball Baseball Cards

1941 Play Ball Baseball Cards

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Featuring a move to color, 1941 Play Ball Baseball continues the brief but strong vintage releases from Gum, Inc. In addition to valuable cards for Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, 1941 Play Ball is home to the only official Pee Wee Reese rookie card.

1941 Play Ball Baseball was the line's third and final installment before World War II, which halted the production of cards and severely curtailed gum production. When the war ended, Gum, Inc. resurfaced as the Bowman Gum Company and began its card production anew. That makes it one of few pre-war card makers to release cards after the war as well.

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With a total of 72 cards, 1941 Play Ball Baseball is the smallest of the three sets from Gum, Inc. However, the overall aesthetic appeal is improved by having the cards printed in color. This makes it more widely collected than either the 1939 or 1940 sets. In essence, 1941 Play Ball Baseball cards are a colorized version of their 1940 counterparts.

Another notable difference is that the ornate banner with baseball gear has been replaced with a more subdued example containing the player's name and often a nickname. The 2-1/2" by 3-1/8" cards are officially recognized as R336.

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Simply incorporating color into the card's design wasn't the only thing that make the 1941 Play Ball Baseball cards stand out. Backgrounds are vivid and sometimes multi-colored, with added shadows and perspective. The design appears to be a combination of the Art Deco design that made 1934-36 Diamond Stars stand out and the comic art of 1938 Goudey so timeless.

The 1941 Play Ball Baseball card backs are similar to the other Play Ball sets, with a lengthy biography. A caption at the bottom seems to indicate the cards may have been intended as part of a larger "Sports Hall of Fame" set, but no other cards ever surfaced. Any cards that are missing that caption simply contain an ad for Blony gum. There are some 1941 Play Ball cards that are printed on paper rather than cardboard. It has been speculated that these cards were part of a promotion.

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1941 Play Ball Baseball features a number of stars and Hall of Fame players, with the big three being Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Hank Greenberg. Other players of note include Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Carl Hubbell, Chuck Klein and Mel Ott. The set also features the rookie-year card of Pee Wee Reese.

In addition, the second series cards (#49-72) are only slightly more difficult to locate than those of the first series. Another difference between the two series is that while series one is found with and without the the 1941 copyright date, the second series does not include any date. Of the three Play Ball sets, this is perhaps the easiest to complete because of its small number of total cards.

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One interesting factoid about 1941 Play Ball Baseball set is that it is the only major baseball card issue to feature all three of the DiMaggio brothers (Joe, Dom and Vince). While Joe is clearly the most famous of the DiMaggios, all three brothers played in the majors during 1941.

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Key Cards

Key 1941 Play Ball Baseball Cards

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#71 Joe DiMaggio

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#14 Ted Williams

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#54 Pee Wee Reese

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#13 Jimmie Foxx

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#18 Hank Greenberg

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#72 Lefty Gomez

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#70 Bill Dickey

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Set Checklist

1941 Play Ball Baseball Set Checklist

1 Eddie Miller
2 Max West
3 Bucky Walters
4 Duke Derringer
5 Buck McCormick
6 Carl Hubbell
7 Harry Danning
8 Mel Ott
9 Pinky May
10 Arky Vaughan
11 Debs Garms
12 Jimmy Brown
13 Jimmie Foxx
14 Ted Williams
15 Joe Cronin
16 Hal Trosky
17 Roy Weatherly
18 Hank Greenberg
19 Charlie Gehringer
20 Red Ruffing
21 Charlie Keller
22 Bob Johnson
23 George McQuinn
24 Dutch Leonard
25 Gene Moore
26 Harry Gumbert
27 Babe Young
28 Joe Marty
29 Jack Wilson
30 Lou Finney
31 Joe Kuhel
32 Taft Wright
33 Al Milnar
34 Rollie Hemsley
35 Pinky Higgins
36 Barney McCosky
 37 Soupy Campbell RC
38 Atley Donald
39 Tommy Henrich
40 Johnny Babich
41 Frankie Hayes
42 Wally Moses
43 Al Brancato RC
44 Sam Chapman
45 Elden Auker
46 Sid Hudson RC
47 Buddy Lewis
48 Cecil Travis
49 Babe Dahlgren
50 Johnny Cooney
51 Dolph Camilli
52 Kirby Higbe RC
53 Luke Hamlin
54 Pee Wee Reese RC
55 Whit Wyatt
56 Vandy Vander Meer RC
57 Morrie Arnovich
58 Frank Demaree
59 Billy Jurges
60 Chuck Klein
61 Vince DiMaggio RC
62 Elbie Fletcher
63 Dom DiMaggio RC
64 Bobby Doerr
65 Tommy Bridges
66 Harlond Clift RC
67 Walt Judnich RC
68 Jack Knott
69 George Case
70 Bill Dickey
71 Joe DiMaggio
72 Lefty Gomez
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Chris is an avid vintage sports card collector who is The Cardboard Connection's resident expert of all things vintage.

User Reviews

Mike M
Mike M

Very handsome cards indeed. These are excellent examples of the Art Deco style, as the write-up stated, with a bit of minimalism thrown in for good measure. Having all three Di Maggio brothers in the set, is just the perfect icing on the cake.

joe cuellar
joe cuellar

i have a 1941 vintage ted williams #10 outfielder with the boston red sox i want to sell email me at

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