1940 Play Ball Set and Checklist

‘It’s In The Details’

Title Play Ball
Year 1940
Size 2 1/2″ x 3 1/8″
Images Black and White
Type Candy/Gum
Number in Set
240

1940 Play Ball Overview

Ted Williams 1940 Play BallLike the 1939 Play Ball set, the 1940 Play Ball set includes black and white cards in one of the final pre-war issues. The set is categorized as R335 in the American Card Catalog.

The design of the cards sort of play into the time period. World War II had just begun and these somewhat dull cards are a stark contrast to the mostly colorful sets of the 1930s. The set is one of the landmark sets of the 1940s, in part because the decade had so few sets.

One of the more unique aspects of the set is that it focused on player nicknames. Here’s a closer look at those.

Fronts included a black and white image with the player’s name on a banner. Images are the same as found in the 1941 Play Ball set, only those are colorized instead. The addition of the player name was different from the 1939 set, which only included that on the back. Backs included player biographies and a card number. The bottom of the backs also included an assortment of advertisements for Play Ball producer, Gum, Inc., and one highlighted their 1940 Superman Gum set, one of the more popular non-sport issues of the decade.

Play Ball produced a total of three sets – 1939, 1940, and 1941. Here was my list of the top ten cards across all three sets.

Retired Legends

1940 play ball joe jacksonOne of the distinguishing characteristics of the set is that it included cards of numerous ex-players. Those are some of the most popular cards in the entire set.

At the top of the list is a card of Shoeless Joe Jackson. The Jackson card is not only desirable because he’s one of the legends in the set but also because Jackson simply doesn’t have many cards in the pre-war era.

Even though it was produced about 20 years after Jackson’s major league career had ended, it is still one of the more valuable post-career cards of players in the pre-war era. It can sell for $1,000 or more, even in lower-grade condition.

Jackson isn’t the only big name retired player in the set. There are plenty of others, including the likes of Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, and plenty of other pre-war Hall of Famers.

One of the more interesting cards is that of Wagner. While cards of other retired players included pictures of them from their playing days, Wagner’s was a contemporary card, showing him as a coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Roy Hobbs / The Natural Movie Card

Roy Hobbs 1940 Play Ball CardsThe 1940 card design was used in the popular movie, The Natural, featuring fictional character Roy Hobbs (played by Robert Redford).

The cards used the 1940 Play Ball design but were actually in color as opposed to black and white, as requested by the movie’s producer. The cards were designed by TCMA, a popular baseball card company that released a number of issues.

Here’s the full story on the Roy Hobbs 1940 Play Ball cards.

1940 Play Ball Checklist

  1. Joe DiMaggio
  2. Art Jorgens
  3. Babe Dahlgren
  4. Tommy Henrich
  5. Monte Pearson
  6. Lefty Gomez
  7. Bill Dickey
  8. George Selkirk
  9. Charley Keller
  10. Red Ruffing
  11. Jake Powell
  12. Johnny Schulte
  13. Jack Knott
  14. Rabbit McNair
  15. George Case
  16. Cecil Travis
  17. Buddy Myer
  18. Charley Gelbert
  19. Ken Chase
  20. Buddy Lewis
  21. Rick Ferrell
  22. Sammy West
  23. Dutch Leonard
  24. Frank Hayes
  25. Bob Johnson
  26. Wally Moses
  27. Ted Williams
  28. Gene Desautels
  29. Doc Cramer
  30. Moe Berg
  31. Jack Wilson
  32. Jim Bagby
  33. Fritz Ostermueller
  34. John Peacock
  35. Joe Heving
  36. Jim Tabor
  37. Emerson Dickman
  38. Bobby Doerr
  39. Tom Carey
  40. Hank Greenberg
  41. Charlie Gehringer
  42. Bud Thomas
  43. Pete Fox
  44. Dizzy Trout
  45. Red Kress
  46. Earl Averill
  47. Ossie Vitt
  48. Luke Sewell
  49. Roy Weatherly
  50. Hal Trosky
  51. Don Heffner
  52. Myril Hoag
  53. Mac McQuinn
  54. Bill Trotter
  55. Slick Coffman
  56. Eddie Miller
  57. Max West
  58. Billy Posedel
  59. Rabbit Warstler
  60. John Cooney
  61. Tony Cuccinello
  62. Buddy Hassett
  63. Pete Cascarart
  64. Van Lingle Mungo
  65. Freddie Fitzsimmons
  66. Babe Phelps
  67. Whit Wyatt
  68. Dolph Camilli
  69. Cookie Lavagetto
  70. Luke Hamlin
  71. Mel Almada
  72. Chuck Dressen
  73. Bucky Walters
  74. Duke Derringer
  75. Buck McCormick
  76. Lonny Frey
  77. Bill Hershberger
  78. Lew Riggs
  79. Harry Craft
  80. Bill Myers
  81. Wally Berger
  82. Hank Gowdy
  83. Clif Melton
  84. Jo Jo Moore
  85. Hal Schumacher
  86. Harry Gumbert
  87. Carl Hubbell
  88. Mel Ott
  89. Bill Jurges
  90. Frank Demaree
  91. Bob Seeds
  92. Burgess Whitehead
  93. Harry Danning
  94. Gus Suhr
  95. Hugh Mulcahy
  96. Heinie Mueller
  97. Morrie Arnovich
  98. Pinky May
  99. Syl Johnson
  100. Hersh Martin
  101. Del Young
  102. Chuck Klein
  103. Elbie Fletcher
  104. Paul Waner
  105. Lloyd Waner
  106. Pep Young
  107. Arky Vaughan
  108. Johnny Rizzo
  109. Don Padgett
  110. Tom Sunkel
  111. Mickey Owen
  112. Jimmy Brown
  113. Mort Cooper
  114. Lon Warneke
  115. Mike Gonzales
  116. Al Schacht
  117. Dolly Stark
  118. Waite Hoyt
  119. Cleveland Alexander
  120. Walter Johnson
  121. Atley Donald
  122. Sandy Sundra
  123. Oral Hildebrand
  124. Earle Combs
  125. Art Fletcher
  126. Jake Solters
  127. Muddy Ruel
  128. Pete Appleton
  129. Bucky Harris
  130. Clyde Milan
  131. Zeke Bonura
  132. Connie Mack
  133. Jimmie Foxx
  134. Joe Cronin
  135. Lynn Nelson
  136. Cotton Pippen
  137. Bing Miller
  138. Beau Bell
  139. Elden Auker
  140. Dick Coffman
  141. Casey Stengel
  142. George Kelly
  143. Gene Moore
  144. Joe Vosmik
  145. Vito Tamulis
  146. Tot Pressnell
  147. Johnny Hudson
  148. Hugh Casey
  149. Pinky Shoffner
  150. Whitey Moore
  151. Eddie Joost
  152. Jimmy Wilson
  153. Bill McKechnie
  154. Jumbo Brown
  155. Ray Hayworth
  156. Daffy Dean
  157. Lou Chiozza
  158. Stonewall Jackson
  159. Pancho Snyder
  160. Hans Lobert
  161. Debs Garms
  162. Joe Bowman
  163. Spud Davis
  164. Ray Berres
  165. Bob Klinger
  166. Bill Brubaker
  167. Frankie Frisch
  168. Honus Wagner
  169. Gabby Street
  170. Tris Speaker
  171. Harry Heilmann
  172. Chief Bender
  173. Nap Lajoie
  174. Johnny Evers
  175. Christy Mathewson
  176. Heinie Manush
  177. Home Run Baker
  178. Max Carey
  179. George Sisler
  180. Mickey Cochrane
  181. Spud Chandler
  182. Bill Knickerbocker
  183. Marvin Breuer
  184. Mule Haas
  185. Joe Kuhel
  186. Taft Wright
  187. Jimmie Dykes
  188. Joe Krakauskas
  189. Jim Bloodworth
  190. Charley Berry
  191. John Babich
  192. Dick Seibert
  193. Chubby Dean
  194. Sam Chapman
  195. Dee Miles
  196. Nonny Nonnenkamp
  197. Lou Finney
  198. Denny Galehouse
  199. Pinky Higgins
  200. Soupy Campbell
  201. Barney McCosky
  202. Al Milnar
  203. Odell Hale
  204. Harry Eisenstat
  205. Rollie Hemsley
  206. Chet Laabs
  207. Gus Mancuso
  208. Lee Gamble
  209. Hy Vandenberg
  210. Bill Lohrman
  211. Pop Joiner
  212. Babe Young
  213. John Rucker
  214. Ken O’Dea
  215. Johnnie McCarthy
  216. Joe Marty
  217. Walter Beck
  218. Wally Millies
  219. Russ Bauers
  220. Mace Brown
  221. Lee Handley
  222. Max Butcher
  223. Hughie Jennings
  224. Pie Traynor
  225. Joe Jackson
  226. Harry Hooper
  227. Jesse Haines
  228. Charlie Grimm
  229. Buck Herzog
  230. Red Faber
  231. Dolf Luque
  232. Goose Goslin
  233. George Earnshaw
  234. Frank Chance
  235. John McGraw
  236. Jim Bottomley
  237. Willie Keeler
  238. Tony Lazzeri
  239. George Uhle
  240. Bill Atwood

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