Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1934-36 Batter-Up Baseball #5, Carl Hubbell

One of my favorite type cards in the collection, starring HOF lefty and master of the screwball, Carl Hubbell.

There's a little of everything in this photo, from visible spikes to high leg kick to bloused pants to an artistically foggy background. The die-cut edge surrounding Carl's upper half allowed collectors to detach and bend the top at an angle, standing their batters (and pitchers) "up," hence the set name. I bet many kids run games on bedroom floor ballparks, just as they built blanket mountains for army men or played house with stuffed animals.

National Chicle printed two baseball sets in 1934, each innovative in their own way. Batter-Up! Gum's 192 photo cards showed almost everyone in full regalia, often shagging balls or swinging bats. 

National Chicle printed each Batter-Up! series in multiple colors, creating a challenging task for variation or master set collectors. #1-40 came out in six tints (black, red, brown, blue, purple and green) and #41-80 just four (black, brown, blue, purple). Its second series, #81-192, measures 1/4" shorter and comes in four (black, brown, blue, and green).

1934 Batter-Up #31, Lefty Grove (tint variations)

While Batter-Up! omits Lou Gehrig (exclusive to 1934 Goudey) and Babe Ruth, it's otherwise full of Hall of Famers (set checklist) and impresses me as the first set with modern dimensions to focus on full-card player photos. I love all the high socks, classic uniforms. and old gloves.

I first wrote about Batter-Up! and similar die-cut sets back in 2008 for Things Done to Cards. The die-cut on this sepia Hubbell's off-center a bit, so he'd lose a spike when folded.

TRIVIA: New York retired Hubbell's #11 in 1944, the first Giants player so honored.

2021 UPDATE: Thanks to research by Jason Schwartz, it appears National Chicle avoided creating new Batter-Up! cards in 1935, perhaps to continue selling excess 1934 inventory, and picked the set up again in 1936.

Value: Hubbell runs $20-40 in low-grade (e.g., missing the fold-down flap and moves into three figures in mid-grade or better.

Fakes / reprints: The die-cut makes this set harder to fake and I haven't seen any in the marketplace. Several modern retro sets repurposed Batter-Up's die-cut style and sepia design.

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