Joe DiMaggio entered the major leagues in 1936. Breaking in with what would be his only team, DiMaggio starred immediately with the New York Yankees. That season, the Yankee Clipper slugged 29 home runs, batted .323, and led the league with 15 triples.
While DiMaggio does have a few earlier cards and collectibles from his minor league days, here’s a look at some of his 1936 rookie cards as an official major leaguer.
1936 V355 World Wide Gum
Unquestionably, Joe DiMaggio’s top major league rookie card is found in the Canadian World Wide Gum set. While Goudey printed only a small set of 25 cards in 1936 and left him out, the World Wide Gum company included him in their much bigger with 135 cards.
The key to the set is DiMaggio’s rookie issue, which is a basic portrait pose card. The card doesn’t come cheap. Even lower end copies typically sell for at least five figures. A PSA 2 sold last year in a Heritage Auction for $13,200.
1936 R312 Pastel Photos
Another DiMaggio rookie is found in the R312 Colored Photos set. This item, sometimes called the Color Tints or Pastel set, is one of several DiMaggios that are really more like miniature photos than traditional trading cards.
That’s both good and bad for collectors. It’s good because it helps keep the prices down on them and makes them affordable for many more buyers. But it’s not so good if you happen to own one and are expecting it to be worth a ton of money. You can typically find decent copies of it in the $200-$300 range.
Still, DiMaggio’s image on it is a nice one, featuring him mid-swing and his name written in cursive on the picture.
1936 R314 Goudey Wide Pens
DiMaggio actually has two rookie cards in the massive R314 Goudey Wide Pens set. Like the R312 Colored Photos, these are printed on a thinner card stock and are small premium photos.
One of DiMaggio’s Wide Pens is a closeup portrait featuring only a grinning image of him. The second features both DiMaggio and Yankees manager Joe McCarthy. McCarthy is a Hall of Famer in his own right but his presence might actually lessen the value a little for collectors wanting only DiMaggio’s image. The photo with both DiMaggio and McCarthy starts at around $200 while the other DiMaggio is hard to find for much under $500.
1936 R313 National Chicle Fine Pen
DiMaggio also makes an appearance in the 1936 National Chicle Fine Pen set. Identified as R313 in the American Card Catalog, this is a set very similar in appearance to the Goudey Wide Pens. Similar size, similar idea. The primary difference is that the names and captions written on them are done so with a much thinner type of pen – hence the fine pen name.
This is a horizontal action shot of DiMaggio in action and it’s also popular with collectors. The caption reads, “Joe DiMaggio slams it, Erickson catching.” Interestingly enough, DiMaggio is shown wearing No. 18 instead of his customary No. 5, by which fans would come to know him. That’s because the picture features DiMaggio in a spring training game. Incidentally, the photo used for this card was recently up for auction. This is another affordable ‘card’, starting around $225 on the lower end.
1936 R311 Photo
Finally, collectors can also find a DiMaggio rookie issue in the R311 Photos set. These photo premiums were also issued by National Chicle and there are two types of baseball photos – some with a glossy finish and a second set with photos using a leather finish.
DiMaggio is found in the set with a leather finish. Like one of the Wide Pen photos, he is not pictured alone, though. Also shown on the image are stars Tony Lazzeri and Frank Crosetti. This is one is a little tougher to come by but generally still affordable.
Of course, DiMaggio’s “official” rookie card wouldn’t arrive until three years later when he was featured in the Goudey “Heads Up” set.
You can search for DiMaggio’s from the 1930s by clicking here.