1941 Play Ball Set a Rare Family Affair for DiMaggio Clan

The appearance of the three baseball brothers being found in the 1941 Play Ball set was a rarity

Joe DiMaggio 1941 Play BallThe 1941 Play Ball set includes 72 cards with many big stars. But while the Joe DiMaggio is the key to the set, his two brothers, Vince DiMaggio and Dom DiMaggio, are also featured.

The cards of Vince and Dom aren’t on the level of Joe’s, obviously. But they are noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, the card of Dom is his rookie card. Vince’s is often recognized as a rookie, too, even though he appeared in the 1938 Exhibit 4-in-1 set.

Both are also high-numbered shortprints and those two factors have driven their prices up. Regular, low number commons usually start in the $5-$10 for a low-grade card. But the cards of Vince and Dom start around $30 or so.

Low-grade Joe DiMaggio cards from the set start around $350-$400, so Joe is clearly much more expensive. Still, the cards of Vince and Dom carry their weight compared to other cards in the set.

Together At Last

One intriguing aspect is that the 1941 Play Ball set is the only mainstream major league issue where the three are featured together, according to Cardboard Connection. I haven’t fully vetted that claim but also haven’t come upon any discrepancies of it in the digging I’ve done. But even if there are other examples, there certainly aren’t many sets where the three brothers are found. The culprits here are Vince and Dom, who are not in a ton of sets.

At first glance, that seems somewhat surprising given that all three were good players. After all, Joe is a Hall of Famer and his credentials don’t need to be reviewed here. But Dom was also a seven-time All-Star and Vince also made two All-Star teams. Dom and Vince weren’t Joe, but they were no slouches.

Vince DiMaggio 1941 Play BallDom DiMaggio 1941 Play BallNot only that, but their careers overlapped a good bit. Vince played from 1937-46, Joe played from 1936-51, and Dom played from 1940-53.

Given all of that, why aren’t the three found together more often? World War II was a big reason.

Altogether, the brothers’ careers would have overlapped from 1940 through 1946, giving us seven years of potential sets (eight if you include 1947 when 1946 stats could have been revisited). But Joe and Dom each missed three seasons due to World War II, not playing from 1943-45, leaving only four seasons (1940-42, 1946) where they were all playing at the same time.

So four years — that should still be enough for some other sets, right? Typically, yes. But with the World War interruption, many cards weren’t produced. Goudey and Play Ball had also stopped producing baseball cards after 1941, Topps baseball cards weren’t yet around, and Bowman didn’t surface until 1948 after Vince had retired. Some baseball card sets were made in the 1940s but there were few of them. And even many of these produced during that time had relatively small checklists, such as this one.

Add it all up and the appearance of the trio in this set is a rare situation.

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