1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

When one thinks of sets they wish they had the money to collect, and I don’t mean more recent sets that involve a few hundred dollars, but the vintage sets that always are out of reach for many budget-minded collectors, it usually involves sets such as the 1952 Topps set (the most wanted post WWII set), the 1948 Bowman set (the first mainstream post WWII set), The Goudey sets from the 30s, and also the 1909-11 T-206 tobacco cards. These sets, as well as some others, are very popular for collectors, but most hobbyists can only afford a card or two not the whole set. Even trying to avoid a big cash outlay for the whole set by collecting individual cards one or a few at a time still presents an insurmountable challenge to most collectors once the commons have been put to bed and the star cards and Hall of Fame players are all that remain.

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball Wax Pack Wrapper

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball Wax Pack Wrapper

One set that always seems to fly under the radar, and it is a set I have always put on my wish list, is the 1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball set. It is a small set, only 40 cards, and it only features American League players of the era, but it has the distinction of being Canada’s first true set of baseball cards. They came one to a pack with a stick of bubble gum for a penny. They are quite rare these days and because of it command sometimes thousands of dollars for each card (especially graded in high condition).

The 1937 O-Pee-Chee baseball set was the company’s first cardboard cards. The company did issue a 58-card set back in 1934 (ACC # V94 Canadian Butterfinger) but the cards were made of paper stock and measured 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches. After the ’37 set O-Pee-Chee would not print another until their association with Topps in 1965. As I said the set consists of 40 cards numbered A-101 to A-140. It is cataloged in the ACC as V300.

There has been speculation through the years as to why the cards were given the designation of Series A (you can see this on the back bottom of the cards) but no one knows for sure. Most guess that O-Pee-Chee was planning a second series of cards featuring players from the National League (all players from this set are from the American League) and would designate it Series B (as they did with consecutive Hockey sets from the time period). As to why the numbering starts at #101 instead of #1 is also a mystery.

The cards each measure 2 3/8″ x 2 7/8″ and are die-cut. They contain B&W images of the players in the foreground with a baseball field in the background. A ribbon-shaped image in white with black outline at the bottom give the name of the player, his team, and his position. The back of the cards are plain with the player’s name at the top, the card number at the bottom, and a bilingual biography (English above, French below, separated by a short line).

The set contains 15 Hall of Famers including, Earl Averill, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Goose Goslin, Charlie Gehringer, Luke Appling, Tony Lazzeri, Bill Dickey, Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Red Ruffing, Lefty Grove, Rogers Hornsby, the second year card of Joe DiMaggio, and the rookie card of Bob Feller.

The 1937 O-Pee-Chee set was the first baseball set from a major manufacturer printed in Canada and it is the main reason it holds merit for Canadian collectors such as myself. It is very unlikely that I will ever own this set of cards but it will always stand alongside the American sets mentioned earlier in my baseball sets wish list.

The 1939 O-Pee-Chee Complete Set

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Three

Hall of Fame, The Wall, Part Three

Hall of Fame, The Wall, Part Three

The next set of Hall of Fame cards I purchased came in from COMC. I also picked up a couple of 1989 Upper Deck Factory sets which I broke open to add the Ken Griffey Jr. RC to the wall. Thirdly I found in my cards a copy of Griffey Jr.`s Donruss RC.

Here are the cards from COMC:

Latest HOF Purchases

Latest HOF Purchases

Here is a list of the new additions to the wall:

  1. 1989 Upper Deck #1 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  2. 1989 Donruss #33 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  3. 1989 Bowman #220 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  4. 1989 Fleer #548 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  5. 1992 Bowman #461 Mike Piazza RC
  6. 1989 O-Pee-Chee #186 Randy Johnson RC

The Griffey Jr. cards and the Mike Piazza card are the two players’ first cards. For Griffey Jr. Topps and Score waited until their Rookie/Traded sets to include the Mariner. Piazza was missed by everyone except Bowman. Fleer included him in their low print Update set at the end of the year, but all the other companies missed the boat completely.

I’m not sure how well informed my readers are about grading companies (I assume they are somewhat informed due to the fact that grading has been popular since the late ’90s). The Piazza card I bought from COMC was a graded card from BCCG (Beckett’s Collector’s Club grading service). I’m not sure why Beckett has this service as it is inferior and somewhat dubious in its grading practices. It actually is a stupid way to conduct business as many novice collectors are fooled into thinking the numerical grading (1-10) is equal to that of PSA. They see a lower price for the BCCG graded card and buy it not realizing it is not of equal quality to its PSA counterpart. If you come across any of these BCCG graded cards, ignore the grade and just consider it an ungraded card which you will need to inspect to get a proper grade for it.

I did this with the Piazza card I purchased for the wall. I bought a BCCG graded 10 Piazza Bowman RC for $21.30. It was in better condition than the equally priced ungraded versions of the card so it was an easy decision to purchase it and remove it from its case when I received it in the mail:

Mike Piazza Before and After

Mike Piazza Before and After

As you can see, the card is off center to the right and would probably be graded at most a PSA 9. If you wish to remove any cards from their graded case it’s quite simple. Here is an example:

Returning to the wall, I moved it to the hallway to give the dedication more space as new cards come in. You can see the new wall, with the latest cards added, at the top of this post.

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Two

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Four