Thursday, November 13, 2008

1941 Play Ball Baseball #5, Buck McCormick

A number of side stories lurk peripherally near 1941's Play Ball set. First, there's the building war in Europe, which sapped both headlines and raw materials stateside. Second, color printing finally arrived in a major set, something that came and went for a decade before Topps and Bowman finally made it the default in the 1950s. Third, Play Balls maintain enough appeal (and demand) that modern collectors should be cognizant of reprints and especially counterfeits. Of the half-dozen fakes from my own history of eBay purchases, three of them were from 1940 and 1941.

Card front

With all that extra stuff going on, the cards themselves can become just incidental holes to fill in a binder. Don't let that happen to your PBs! Even this picture of Buck McCormick, a strong-but-forgotten player, shows off some interesting design and fan-friendly features.
  1. A nickname replaces his given name, Frank. (1940 Play Balls did this too, but that (much larger) set included a number of retired players as a “bonus.”)
  2. The three bands of color imply practice swings in front of an outfield wall, but look abstractly artful.
  3. Minimal borders mean more space for interesting use of perspective and a paint-by-numbers feel.

Card back

Several players feature pop-off-the-card design concepts. (Vince DiMaggio is one of my favorites.) See the full complement of coolness at Dan Austin's Virtual Card Collection page.

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