Skip the Blaster: Joe Gordon / Red Ruffing 1941 Double Play

Blaster boxes are those delectable boxes of modern cards that collectors like to target at retailers. Usually $10, $20, or $30, collectors love these sorts of fixed-price buys when in the mood for a cheap rip. I’ve got nothing against modern cards but, well, there are better ways to spend your money if you’re into vintage stuff. What I want to do is point out some great pre-war buys in these articles that can be purchased for the price of a blaster box.

This 1941 Double Play card is a relative bargain with two Hall of Famers

This month’s ‘bargain buy,’ so to speak, is a 1940s baseball gum card.

The card barely fits into the category of these monthly articles. I typically like to find something in the neighborhood of no more than $20 or $30 and this one is usually a wee bit more. But it’s close enough that I’m taking some liberties here.

The card in question is the 1941 Double Play card featuring Joe Gordon and Red Ruffing of the New York Yankees. The 1941 Double Play set technically featured 150 cards but since two mini-cards were printed on one full-sized card, many collectors consider this to be a 75-card set.

Along with the 1941 Goudey and 1941 Play Ball cards, this was one of the few key sets issued that year. With the U.S. entering World War II at the end of the year, there was a significant gap from 1942 through 1947 where few baseball cards were issued. 1941 was a ‘last hurrah’ of sorts until the modern era would begin in 1948.

Gordon is No. 67 in the set while Ruffing is No. 68. I chose this card for a couple of reasons. First, as stated, 1941 was a pretty important year for baseball cards since there would be somewhat of a hiatus after that. Second, it includes two Hall of Famers on the same card in Gordon and Ruffing. Gordon was a nine-time All-Star that would win the Most Valuable Player Award the next season in 1942. Ruffing, meanwhile, was a six-time All-Star, including in 1941, the year this set was released.

The Gordon card is sometimes listed as a rookie card of sorts, which is generally misleading. Gordon doesn’t have much in the way of ‘traditional’ cards that I know of prior to this one — but he is pictured on several other pieces, including supplements and premiums that others could consider rookie issues. He’s also in the 1939-46 Exhibit Salutations set.

In all, it’s a great card that you can get starting around $30-$40 in respectable lower-grade condition. If the cards are separated, obviously, the value would drop significantly.

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