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Monday, June 2, 2008

Card Of the Week 6/2/08

Things just got hairy at Casa de Dayf, and I might not get to this till tomorrow. Here's the card(s) though for you to gawk at, from this this week's honored set 2003 Upper Deck Play Ball.

Ok, less crazy now. This card is a reprint of Indian Bob Johnson's 1941 Play Ball card from Upper Deck's 2003 Play Ball set. UD reprinted 25 cards from the original set and inserted them in packs. Each pack had one '41 sized card that was either a reprint or a mini version of the base set. The reprints were stacked with stars, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Pee Wee Reese, Hank Greenberg and Jimmie Foxx are just a few in the set. Upper Deck paid close attention to detail on the entire set. The base set's artwork has the same 'feel' as the original set without resorting to crappy computer fuzzing effects to make it look old. The reprints are dead on though, from the color to the layout on the back, even to using the exact font from the 40's issues. Instead of focusing on one of the superstars here's one of the lesser known players from the set.

Bob Johnson (no, not this one) (or this one) (or even this one) was one of the top sluggers in the American League in the 30's and 40's but is almost completely unknown today. Born in Oklahoma, Bob was a quarter Cherokee which prompted the "Indian Bob" nickname. He didn't make his debut until he was 27 due to there being a glut of good outfielders in the majors at the time. He was picked up by the Philadelphia Athletics when they sent Al Simmons to the White Sox. Once he made it to the majors he made up for lost time and hit .290 with 21 homers and 93 RBI in his rookie year. Bob feasted in Shibe park and hit at least 20 homers a year from '33 to '41 along with 7 straight years of 100 or more RBIs from '35 to '41. The long time left fielder never led the league in any major categories but he was almost always in the top 10, as you can see from his Baseball-Reference page. The 8-time All-Star also played for the Senators in '43 and the Red Sox in '44 and '45. He hit for the cycle as a member of the Sox in on July 6th 1944. After replacing Hall of Famer Al Simmons in Philadelphia, he retired in 1946 when another legend, Ted Williams, returned to reclaim left field for the Sox. His career home run total of 288 doesn't sound like a lot now, but it was good for 8th all time when he retired. 8th all time now? Mark McGwire at 583. Cherokee Bob is still 126th all time which ain't shabby at all.

Part of the reason I chose Indian Bob is that I have also a vintage card of him. This is his 1940 Play Ball card. As you can see Play Ball ganked the photos from their older sets just like Topps does. This is a pretty cool example of how the color sets created the pictures for their cards by basing the paintings off of photos. Play Ball removed the detail of the players and stadium in the photo for a more abstract background. The also slimmed down Indian Bob by a few pounds ass well by the looks of it. Here are the backs of the cards.

Different years, yeah, but Upper Deck really put the attention to detail on this set. It's a shame they completely butchered the 2004 Play Ball set, but this one still stands out as one of my all-time favorites. Look for more cards from this set all this week as I can get to posting them.

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