1941 Play Ball Set and Checklist

‘It’s In The Details’

Title Play Ball
Year 1941
Size 2 1/2″ x 3 1/8″
Images Color
Type Candy/Gum
Number in Set

1941 Play Ball Overview

Ted Williams 1941 Play BallThe 1941 Play Ball set, like the 1940 set, is one of the more important baseball card issues of the 1940s. With World War II occupying a good part of the decade, few card sets were issued. Distributed by Gum, Inc., the 1941 Play Ball set is one of the more notable ones.

While the set is called a 1941 issue, some collectors believe it was printed in 1941 and 1942. With only 72 cards in it, it is much smaller than the 1939 and 1940 Play Ball sets. The smaller size makes it easily the most manageable of the Play Ball sets to assemble. This was a short, full-color set, issued in 1941 (at least partially), the year the U.S. officially got into World War II after the December 7 bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Fronts included a colorized image with the player’s name on a banner. Images are the same as found in the 1940 Play Ball set, only those are black and white instead. Backs included player biographies and a card number. Like the 1940 set with its numerous nicknames, some unique nicknames are featured in the 1941 issue.

In addition to the regular cards, paper proofs of this set are known.

Like other early gum-era cards, these cards are much closer in appearance to a square than a rectangular shape. The aren’t a perfect square with four equal sides but measuring about 2 1/2 x 3 1/8″ (the exact size varies a good bit), they aren’t quite as elongated as later gum cards. The set doesn’t include every big star from the era but has quite a few, including Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, and plenty of other Hall of Famers.

The high number cards are more valuable than the lower number issues. Key cards in the set are DiMaggio and Williams, along with Pee Wee Reese, which is commonly cited as a rookie card (even though that may not technically be accurate).

Speaking of checklisted players, the set is notable for including all three of the DiMaggio brothers — Joe, Vince, and Dom. It is generally believed to be the only contemporary card set that includes all three of them.

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.

1941 Play Ball 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. Mac 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. Happy Milnar
  34. Rollie Hemsley
  35. Pinky Higgins
  36. Barney McCosky
  37. Soupy Campbell
  38. Atley Donald
  39. Tommy Henrich
  40. Johnny Babich
  41. Frank Hayes
  42. Wally Moses
  43. Albert Brancato
  44. Sam Chapman
  45. Elden Auker
  46. Sid Hudson
  47. Buddy Lewis
  48. Cecil Travis
  49. Babe Dahlgren
  50. Johnny Cooney
  51. Dolph Camilli
  52. Kirby Higbe
  53. Luke Hamlin
  54. Pee Wee Reese
  55. Whit Wyatt
  56. John Vander Meer
  57. Moe Arnovich
  58. Frank Demaree
  59. Bill Jurges
  60. Chuck Klein
  61. Vince DiMaggio
  62. Elbie Fletcher
  63. Dom DiMaggio
  64. Bobby Doerr
  65. Tommy Bridges
  66. Harland Clift
  67. Walt Judnich
  68. Jack Knott
  69. George Case
  70. Bill Dickey
  71. Joe DiMaggio
  72. Lefty Gomez

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