1943 MP & Company Among Small Number of Sets Issued During WWII

It is often reported that once the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, no more cards were issued until after the war.

But, at least two card sets – one baseball, one non-sport – were produced during the war by M.P. & Co. of New York City. The first was the non-sport War Scenes set (R168 in the AMERICAN CARD CATALOG), which appeared some time after April, 1942. You can date the set because it includes a card about the Battle of Midway, which occurred in that month.

The other set by the same company is designated as R301-1 in the ACC and probably appeared in 1943, because biographies of the players mention their performance in 1941. The baseball set is complete at 24 cards.

The sets are similar in that both are color drawings on thin 2-1/4 by 2-3/4 inch cardboard. Neither will win any prizes for beauty.

R302-1 is an interesting set, however, and is unusual because it was reproduced in 1949. Six players who appeared in the pre-war set show up in the same poses in the post-war version. The other 18 pictures appear in both, but with different players because many of the earlier ones had retired by the end of the decade.

The first set is unnumbered, while the second is skip-numbered from 100 to 124 with two players appearing without numbers. On the reverse of each card is a brief biography of the player along with his name, position, team and the manufacturer’s name and notation “Made in U.S.A.”

The second set, designated as both R302-2 and W523 in the ACC, features six repeat players: Lou Boudreau, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Tom Henrich, Pee Wee Reese and Ted Williams. The information on the backs of their cards is similar or identical to the text on the 1943 version.

R302-1 FellerThe checklist for R302-1:

Ernie Bonham
Lou Boudreau
Dolph Camilli
Mort Cooper
Walker Cooper
Joe Cronin
Hank Danning
Bill Dickey
Joe DiMaggio
Bob Feller
Jimmy Foxx1943 Mel Ott MP R302-1
Hank Greenberg
Stan Hack
Tom Henrich
Carl Hubbell
Joe Medwick
John Mize
Lou Novikoff
Mel Ott
Pee Wee Reese
Pete Reiser
Charlie Ruffing
Johnny Vandermeer
Ted Williams

One player who appears in the later set is Al Kozar, a light-hitting second baseman for the Washington Senators who only lasted three seasons in the major leagues. Unaccountably, he appears in a catching pose, complete with chest protector and in the same picture identified as Bill Dickey in the earlier version.

Some of the other repros are interesting. Larry Doby, the first Black player in the American League appears in the same pose as Johnny Vandermeer, a White. Infielder Buddy Kerr appears in the pitching pose used for Ernie Bonham in the earlier set.

The positions are the same for first basemen Hank Greenberg and Ferris Fain, but Greenberg batted right handed and Fain left handed, something lost on the producers of the set who used the same drawing for both. Righty Del Ennis appears in the same pose as Carl Hubbell, a southpaw.   A complete set is up for sale here at $1,600.

The checklist for R302-2/W523 follows. The names in parenthesis indicate the players who appeared in the 1943 set in the same pose.

#100. Lou Boudreau
#101. Ted Williams
#102. Buddy Kerr (Bonham)
#103. Bob Feller
#104. Not issued
#105. Joe DiMaggio
#106. Pee Wee Reese
#107. Ferris Fain (Greenberg)
#108. Andy Pafko (Novikoff)
#109. Del Ennis (Hubbell)
#110. Ralph Kiner (Foxx)
#111. Nippy Jones (M. Cooper)
#112. Del Rice (W. Cooper)
#113. Hank Sauer (Mize)
#114. Gil Coan (Reiser)
#115. Eddie Joost (Ruffing)
#116. Alvin Dark (Ott)
#117. Larry Berra (Danning)
#118. Not issued
#119. Bob Lemon (Hack)
#120. Not issued
#121. Johnny Pesky (Medwick)
#122. Johnny Sain (Cronin)
#123. Hoot Evers (Camilli)
#124. Larry Doby (Vandermeer)
No #. Tom Henrich
No #. Al Kozar (Dickey)

Occasionally, we try to go back into the hobby’s past to give new life to articles that were once printed in some of the hobby’s print publications, most of which disappeared long ago. This story was written by John Spalding and originally appeared in The Trader Speaks, a popular outlet that was available by subscription from he late 1960s to early 1980s.