“Let’s Be Friends” was the motto of the Remar Baking Company, and that slogan adorned the back of a 32-card minor-league set during the late 1940s.
The 1949 Remar Bread Oakland Oaks cards, 2 inches by 3 inches, could be found in packages of the venerable bread, an institution in Oakland since the company was formed in May 1918 by brewer Jacob Paul Rettenmayer. The German-born Rettenmayer, anticipating the onset of Prohibition, had a large bakery open by February 1919. Within four months, the plant was producing 40,000 loaves of bread each day.
Remar and the Oaks
From 1946 to 1950, Remar produced an Oakland Oaks team set. The Oaks were a powerful Pacific Coast League squad, winning 114 games out of 188 played to take the league title by two games over the San Francisco Seals. In 1949, the Oaks would finish in second place to the Hollywood Stars after winning “only” 104 games.
The 1949 Remar set is interesting because 22 players in the set had some major-league experience — 24 if one counts manager Chuck Dressen and coach George “High Pockets” Kelly, who would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1973.
However, many of those players were “cup of coffee” major-leaguers, playing two or three years during the player-depleted 1940s when World War II was in full swing. Many were at the end of their career, but two — Billy Martin and Jackie Jensen — each would play more than a decade in the major leagues. The 21-year-old Martin would bat .286 and drive in 92 runs, while Jensen, a mere 22, drove in 77 runs.
Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto was a player coach, less than two years removed from his heroics in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series, when he connected for a pinch-hit double in the bottom of the ninth to not only break up Bill Bevens’ no-hit bid, but also to give the Brooklyn Dodgers a 3-2 victory to tie the best-of-seven series against the New York Yankees at two games apiece.
Artie Wilson was a star in the Negro American League who batted .428 for the Birmingham Barons in 1948. Wilson, who began the 1949 season with the San Diego Padres, was dealt to Oakland and became the first black to play for the Oaks. He batted .350 in 134 games with Oakland.
So, there were some quality ballplayers on the 1949 Oaks. Wilson led the team in hitting, Martin was the RBI leader, and Loyd Christopher smacked a team-high 21 homers.
Six pitchers won at least 10 games, with Charlie Gassaway and Milo Candini each going 15-9.
The set even also contained the radio voice of the Oaks, Bud Foster, who did the play-by-play for KLX, 910 AM. Foster was a radio journalist during World War II, broadcasting from Guam and Iwo Jima in 1945. He also was the play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco 49ers (1946-1949, 1951-1953) and the announcer for the Oakland Raiders from 1960 to 1962. He was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2007. He even owned a television station — KUDO — for a few years in the late 1960s.
Foster was also featured in the 1948 Signal Oil Oakland Oaks set.
The 1949 Remar set contained black-and-photos on the card fronts with a white, thin frame surrounding it. The set is unnumbered, and the player’s name and position are located beneath the photograph in black block letters.
The card backs are printed in blue ink and show the player’s 1948 statistics in detail. It also has a drawing of the distinctive Remar Bread loaf.
There have been 605 cards submitted to PSA from this set. Predictably, 98 of them are Martin cards, which is clearly the most coveted player from the set. While there are no PSA 10 cards, there are six that come in at PSA 9.
In fact, there are no PSA 10s among all 605 submissions and only 12 graded at PSA 9. The bulk of the grades land between PSA 5 and PSA 7.
There are only 112 submission to SGC, and Martin leads the way with 28 cards. The highest grades any Remar has attained from SGC is 88; three Martin cards grade that high, and only two others — Jensen and Kelly are at 88.
It might be a tough set to collect in high grade, but the 1949 Remars are not expensive to collect in mid-grade condition. There are some big names that will resonate for West Coast collectors, and just enough star power to keep the casual collector interested.
You can see 1949 Remar cards on eBay here.