1938 Whitman Big League Base Ball Card Game Cards Set and Checklist

‘It’s In The Details’

Title Whitman Big League Base Ball Card Game Cards
Year 1938
Size 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Images Color
Type Game Cards
Number in Set

1938 Whitman Big League Base Ball Card Game Cards Overview

1938 Big League Card Game.jpgWhitman created two sets in the 1930s. One issue was a board game played with dice and the other was this set that used a deck of playing cards. This issue is of interest to card collectors – particularly those interested in gaming cards or type collecting.

The cards do not feature names of actual players but do have baseball scenes on them with various actions such as hitting or running. The pictures are accompanied by actions to indicate a baseball play. The other side of the cards has a vintage blue-ink design, similar to what you might expect to find on the backs of playing cards.

The cards will sometimes be found with the game box, which makes it more collectible and more valuable. The box that held the cards has the game’s title on it – “Big League Base Ball Card Game’ and features a generic picture of a pitcher.

A total of 54 cards make up the set and there are ten different designs included. Cards were printed in both red ink and black ink and not all of the ten designs are in both red and black.

As shown here, the full game also includes a score sheet.

Lou Gehrig?

While the cards feature only generic players with no names or definition in their faces, one interesting card is found. A runner sliding wearing No. 4 is found in both red ink and black ink versions.

With all due respect to home run hitter Mel Ott, the biggest star of that era wearing No. 4 was Lou Gehrig.

Also, consider that Gehrig was playing in the biggest market as a member of the top franchise in the New York Yankees. In 1938, Gehrig had just won his sixth World Series championship with the club and the team was fresh off back-to-back-to-back titles. No team was hotter or more storied and Gehrig was right at the center of it.

Finally, the card could have been seen as a tribute of sorts for Gehrig. He was nearing the end of his career in 1938 and in 1939, would learn of his ALS diagnosis. His number was quickly retired by the Yankees, marking the first time any player had their number retired in the sport.

There’s no way to positively identify Gehrig as the player on these cards without more information. But his depiction here certainly makes sense given the type of seasons he was having, that he was in New York, and that he was wearing No. 4.

Here’s more on the possible Gehrig connection.

1938 Whitman Big League Base Ball Card Game Cards Checklist

No formal checklist for the set exists as real players were not included. The cards only include an assortment of action items needed to play the game.

The ten designs include:

  1. Batter standing holding bat
  2. Batter dropping bat after a swing
  3. Catcher looking down
  4. Catcher looking up
  5. Catcher throwing
  6. Fielder throwing
  7. Fielder waiting for ball
  8. Pitcher
  9. Runner sliding (with No. 4)
  10. Runner standing up

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