Bobby Doerr Rookie Cards

Recently, we lost the oldest living Hall of Fame baseball player. Bobby Doerr died on November 13, 2017 in Junction City, Oregon, at the age of 99. He played his entire 14 year career for the Boston Red Sox between 1937-1951.

Legend has it that Doerr at the young age of 19 debuted in his first career game in 1937 as a big leaguer and he went 3 for 5 that night. He also hit for the cycle twice in his career, once against the St. Louis Browns and another against the Chicago White Sox. He was regarded as one of the top defensive second baseman of his generation. Doerr led baseball for career double plays at second base with 1,507 up until 1963.

Doerr didn’t hit like other players of his day, players like Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth, but he was a consistent, dependable ball player. Teammate Johnny Pesky said of Doerr, “I never saw him misplay a ball, and he had the best backhand of any second baseman I ever saw.” He was named to nine all-star games and his career stat line reads:

Batting Average .288 | Hits 2,042 | Homeruns 223 | Runs Scored 1,094 | RBI’s 1,247


 1938 Goudey Heads-Up, Card No. 258 (shop eBay)

The 38-Goudey Heads Up is a peculiar set. It measures smaller than the typical 2-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ most commonly found on post war baseball cards. These pre-war beauties measure 2-3/8″ x 2-7/8″ and came in one card packs with a stick of bubblegum. The card design makes it exclusively outside the box. A photo of an oversized head placed on the body of a cartoon. I absolutely love it! The card back gives decent player bio and of course since Goudey was a bubblegum manufacturer you get bubblegum advertisement in big bold font.

I don’t recommend purchasing pre-war era cards in raw form. So as of the date of this post low-end graded copies (1-3’s) are selling for $125.00-$150.00. Mid-grade copies (4-6’s) are selling between $225.00-$375.00. And high-end graded copies (7-8’s) are selling in the $700.00-$1500.00 range. There are no copies in existence that have been graded higher than a grade 8.

1938 Goudey Heads-Up, Card No. 282 (shop eBay)

Of the 48 cards in this set there are only 24 different players. That’s because the set contains two different versions of the same 24 players. This is the second group of cards #265-#288 and they look identical – only exception is cartoons that were added on the front of the cards. They don’t appear to have any rhyme or reason, just random baseball facts. Another thing that has collectors perplexed is the numbering of this set; the complete 48 card set appears to be numbered much like the extended or update sets of todays modern cards. The numbering appears to be an extension of the 1933 Goudey set. Therefore the industry considers the 38 Goudey’s of Bobbie Doerr – XRC or extended rookie cards, which is a tag that has been used to include cards coming from products that lack the wider scope and/or full extent of licensing typically found in mainstream sets.

As of the date of this post low-end graded copies (1-3’s) sell for $150.00-$180.00. Mid-grade copies (4-6’s) sell between $195.00-$375.00. And high-end graded copies (7-8’s) sell in the $440.00-$1830.00 range. There are no copies in existence that have graded higher than an 8.

1939 Play Ball, Card No. 7 (shop eBay)

Since the 38 Goudey’s above were products that lack the wider scope and/or full extent of licensing typically found in mainstream sets they were tagged with the XRC label within the industry. However, this 39 Play Ball set has all the qualifications to be considered a mainstream set therefore, the Bobby Doerr in this set is the sole card of Doerr labeled with the RC (rookie card) tag. The card front features a black and white portrait photo: no banners, no name, no team emblems, it does give us a white border that helps us determine centering. The card backs give us player bio towards the top and commentary about Bobbie in the middle. At the bottom the card claims, “This is one of a series of 250 pictures of leading baseball players. Save to get them all.” Truth is the set doesn’t contain 250 cards, only cards #1-162 are known to exist. Shortages of paper and gum base were perhaps the reason for the rest of the set not getting printed.

As of the date of this post low-end graded copies (1-3’s) sell for $32.00-$48.00. Mid-grade copies (4-6’s) sell between $50.00-$110.00 and high-end graded copies (7-8’s) sell in the $160.00-$269.00 range. And in August 2006, a PSA 9 sold for $5,141.80.

Noteworthy: Bobby Doerr was known throughout the TTM (Through the Mail) community for being very fan friendly with his autograph. TTM’ers are thankful of his willingness throughout the years.

BL-4283-89. Digital Image. Bobby Doerr Becomes Baseballs Oldest Hall of Famer | Baseball Hall of Fame. June 18, 2015. (Accessed November 19, 2017)
Wikipedia contributors, “Bobby Doerr,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (Accessed November 19, 2017).
Contributing Authors: Owens, Tom; Ellingbowe, Steven; Taylor, Ted; Lemke, Robert. Great Book of Baseball Cards. Lincolnwood, Illinois: Publications International, Ltd. 1989
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