Friday, November 2, 2012

1937 Kellogg's Pep Sports Stamps #5, Gabby Hartnett

After seeing Wheaties succeed with a string of 1920s and 1930s pro endorsements (which birthed their enduring "Breakfast of Champions" slogan), Kellogg's built a competing stable of athletes and sports performers to push boxes of whole wheat cereal. Their shotgun approach is perhaps best represented by today's set, the multi-sport (and multi-species) Sports Stamps, packaged in boxes of Pep wheat cereal.

Kids could remove the yellow numbered banner, separate each stamp along perforations, and mount all 90 in a company-made album. Vintage fans might know Gabby Hartnett as a Hall of Fame catcher for the Cubs, who happened to post his last statistically great year in 1937 (career stats). So who are the other three?
  • George Lott's polo collar betrays that he played the more genteel sport of tennis. He won several doubles titles in the early 1930s and must've still been well-known in 1937.
  • Pompoon won five major races between 1936 and 1938 before succumbing to a kidney infection in 1939.
  • The college football Frank Thomas played for Notre Dame, roomed with The Gipper, and coached Alabama to significant success in the 30s and 40s. Frank was probably the best-known name on this panel in 1937.

This Pep promotion must've been popular, as I often see individual stamps at shows and on eBay. Full panels remain scarce, but succinctly describe the set itself. (Games that provide "endless pleasure?" Yes, please!)

Pep's panel-stamp dichotomy gives collectors multiple checklist options. offers a hybrid, alphabetizing the players but including their panel number.
  • BB1 Luke Appling 7
  • BB2 Mordecai Brown 22
  • BB3 Leo Durocher 3
  • BB4 Johnny Evers 17
  • BB5 Rick Ferrell 16
  • BB6 Lew Fonseca 15
  • BB7 Gabby Hartnett 5
  • BB8 Billy Herman 6
  • BB9 Walter Johnson 13
  • BB10 Ducky Medwick 1
  • BB11 Buddy Myer 19
  • BB12 George Selkirk 12
  • BB13 Tris Speaker 20/23
  • BB14 Bill Terry 11
  • BB15 Joe Tinker 21
  • BB16 Arky Vaughan 8
  • BB17 Paul Waner 9
  • BB18 Sam West 18

Vintage collectors might've seen this set's spiritual successor, the unnumbered 1948 Kellogg's Pep Celebrities, which includes five baseball players, gallery at OldCardboard. (See also the White Sox Cards profile of Orval Grove from 2011.)

UPDATE: eBay provided these Pep Sports album cover and baseball page scans!

No idea about those criss-cross lines across home plate. Anyone know if that's really how fields looked in the 1930s and what the lines in foul ground demarcated?

Inside, one page held all 18 baseballers.

Value: Low-grade complete panels cost $20-$50, depending on players. Individual panels come cheap and I'd pay a few dollars at most. It'd be fun to find a complete album, but they might only turn up in auctions.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

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