Taking My Hacks

The Five Most Underrated Pre-War Baseball Cards

Joe Orlando

With the pre-war baseball card market on fire over the past year or so, you may be wondering how I could possibly write about cards that are underrated from this era. I am not saying these cards are overlooked, which is slightly different, just not appreciated as much as one would think. While commons and more obscure issues from the era have surged, these classics have been somewhat ignored.

The following five cards are underrated relative to other key cards.

1) 1909-11 T206 Eddie Plank - This card has always been overshadowed by the legendary Honus Wagner card of the same ultra-popular set. Both cards feature great players and both are very tough. Just check your PSA Population Report, the Plank card is a lot closer to the Wagner card in terms of rarity than one would think. Lower graded examples have picked up steam recently but with the $2.35 million sale of the PSA NM-MT 8 Wagner and PSA PR-FR 1. s bringing well in excess of six figures consistently, the Plank card seems to have a lot of potential.

2) 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth (#'s 53, 144, 149 and 181) - If you have analyzed the market the last 7 years or so and in comparison to other great cards, like the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, these cards do appear to be stagnant. They are part of one of The Big Three sets, the cards are beautiful and it. s Babe Ruth we. re taking about here! Even with the more common #. s 144 and 181 Ruth cards, if you told me that they were running about $40,000-$50,000 each in PSA NM-MT 8. s, it wouldn. t sound funny at all - would it?

3) 1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig (#'s 37 and 61) - Strangely enough, these two cards have also flat lined like the Ruth quartet despite the fact that commons from the same set have sold at record levels recently. While the #37 Gehrig card has always been considered the fan-favorite, don. t overlook the #61 card. Some hobbyists, like me, actually prefer the batting pose. Once again, if you were to tell me that each card was trading in the $20,000-$30,000 range in PSA NM-MT 8, it wouldn't surprise me.

4) 1938 Goudey Joe DiMaggio (#250 and 274) - This duo has remained relatively unchanged for years despite possessing great condition rarity and overall importance. Technically, there are other Yankee Clipper cards that arrived on the scene prior to this classic but the bottom line is that this is his first mainstream issue. The high-number (with cartoons) DiMaggio is the tougher of the two but it remains priced only slightly higher than the low number version. It wouldn. t be surprising to me if these two cards were selling at nearly double the current levels value based on their importance.

5) 1941 Play Ball Ted Williams #14 - This Teddy Ballgame classic was actually selling for more money several years ago in top grades than it does today. As the only color Play Ball issue to feature Williams and one that reminds us of the magical summer of 1941 when this legendary hitter batted .406, it is unimaginable that this card could be somewhat ignored. With so few Williams cards to collect and this clearly being one of his best, how could this card not be selling for 2-3 times what it is today?

There you have it. Of course, this is just an opinion but if you look at how these cards have performed relative to other keys in the hobby, you might start believing that they are underrated too.


Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief


Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 25 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last fourteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on several radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines and HBO's Real Sports, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release.