This is the second of a two-part series on the 1941 St. Louis baseball team-issue card sets. Offered for sale at Sportsman’s Park, the home stadium for both the cardinals and Browns, they represent two of the relatively few war-time sets.
Part I focused on the St. Louis Browns set while Part II below looks at the Cardinals set.
1941 St. Louis Cardinals Team Set Basics
While the 1941 Browns team set did not include many stars, the 1941 St. Louis Cardinals set is a star-studded release. The American Card Catalog classifies this set as W754 while the Browns set earned the W753 designation.
The 1941 Cardinals just missed a 100-win season, finishing with a 97-56 record. That was good for second place in the National League pennant race, just 2 1/2 games short of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The cards have the same, no frills design that is found in the Browns set. Measuring approximately 2 1/4″ wide by 2 3/4″ tall, they were distributed only at Sportsman’s Park. The sets share the same design and were clearly created by the same entity.
Cards in this 30-card release included simple black and white pictures with white borders. Backs of the cards included the player’s name, position, biographical information, and statistics.
Also as was the case in the Browns set, the checklist also includes some other notable cards non-player cards. One is a header card for the set and others are executives.
1941 St. Louis Cardinals Lineup
The Cards were a talented team and it is easy to see why stars would be found inside what was a comprehensive set.
Two Hall of Fame players are among the highlights: Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter. While Mize was the bigger name, Slaughter’s card is heavily pursued as it is a rookie card. Slaughter actually broke into the major leagues in 1938, three years before the start of this set. However, despite playing in many games and even proving to be a star (he batted .320 in 1939 and .306 in 1940), he was not included in other mainstream card sets prior to this one — in part because of the dearth of card sets created during his first few seasons.
It is important to note that two of the other important cards are for non-players. One of those is Hall of Fame manager Billy Southworth. He managed two World Series winning teams in 1942 and 1944 with the Cardinals and also won two National League pennants (one with the Cardinals in 1943 and another with the Boston Braves in 1948).
Another very desirable card is that of executive Branch Rickey. Rickey, who helped break baseball’s color barrier with the signing of Jackie Robinson during his Brooklyn Dodgers tenure a few years later, is found in this set as a Cardinals front office man. His card is among the more valuable in the set.
While the checklist is a strong one, it is often noted for one glaring omission — that of Hall of Famer Stan Musial. Young Stan the Man did make his first big league appearances with the Cardinals that season but wasn’t included in the set. His debut didn’t come until September 17, long after the card set had been produced. A Musial rookie card in this rare set would be incredibly valuable but it wasn’t meant to be.
Here is the complete checklist for the 1941 Cardinals set.
- Sam Breadon
- Jimmy Brown
- Mort Cooper
- Walker Cooper
- Estel Crabtree
- Frank Crespi
- Bill Crouch
- Miguel Gonzalez
- Harry Gumbert
- Header Card
- Johnny Hopp
- Ira Hutchinson
- Howie Krist
- Eddie Lake
- Max Lanier
- Gus Mancuso
- Marty Marion
- Steve Mesner
- Johnny Mize
- Terry Moore
- Sam Nahem
- Don Padgett
- Branch Rickey
- Clyde Shoun
- Enos Slaughter
- Billy Southworth
- Coaker Triplett
- Buzzy Wares
- Lon Warneke
- Ernie White
Rarity and Pricing
Similar to the Browns set, these cards are quite rare. On the surface, the Browns cards would seem to be much more difficult to find. The three major grading companies (PSA, SGC, and Beckett) have graded more than 500 cards from this Cardinals set as opposed to fewer than 300 for the Browns set. But are the cards really rarer?
It’s not possible to say with certainty. The Browns cards are certainly graded less because of the lack of stars in that set. However, it is also possible that, because the Browns were not a good team in 1941 and attendance lagged behind the Cardinals, fewer sets were sold then and fewer may be in circulation today. The Cards drew 633,645 to Sportsman’s Park that season while the Browns played in front of only 176,240–fewer than 3,000 per home game.
Decent commons in the 1941 Cardinals team set can be found on eBay for under $25 with significantly more being asked for the stars or high grade cards. A high-grade 1941 St. Louis Cardinals team set earned $1,162 in a 2019 auction.