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Collecting ’42’ via its baseball cards and its stars

Lucas Black, left, plays Pee Wee Reese while Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson in "42" arriving in theaters on April 12. (Warner Bros. photo)

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary & Opinion

Many of us may think we know the story of Jackie Robinson — and we might from what we have read or seen on cardboard — but for many who see 42 beginning on April 12 his cardboard might be seen a bit differently.

His cards might be seen as must-haves.

Robinson is one of many in the Warner Bros. film who can be found on baseball cards — and some of the actors in the film have their share of collectibles, too. Here’s a rundown of who’s playing who along with some tidbits from an advance screening last week in Dallas as well as stats and values as found in the Beckett.com database.

 

Jackie Robinson (played by Chadwick Boseman)
Baseball’s social pioneer is a giant on cardboard, though he’s not quite as expensive as others from his era. His cut autographs can command top dollar, while his best Rookie Cards come from the post-war, but pre-Topps years. They’re expensive, but perhaps not as flashy as the cards from later in his career. Robinson’s game-used memorabilia cards from the last decade offer a nice option at a modest price compared to his autographs. Boseman’s performance of Robinson is quite believable and powerful, starting with his first scene across from Harrison Ford.
Robinson on cards: 1,850 cards, $59,106.33* (*excluding rarities) (click here for checklist & Online Price Guide)
Best Rookie Card: 1949 Leaf #79, $2,000
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (all cut autographs)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Boseman on cards: 
None … yet. (Boseman items on eBay)

Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford)
Ford’s transformation into the Dodgers’ General Manager as well as Rickey’s transformation in the film is captivating and entertaining in both dramatic and comedic form. From his initial motives — “Dollars aren’t black and white. They’re green.” — to his final speech when he’s asked by Robinson why he did it, this is a performance a galaxy far, far away from what we’ve seen in the past from Ford. Rickey’s original cardboard pre-dates his GM years with those from his days as a manager, though his role with the Dodgers is represented, too. Interestingly, Ford’s actually worth more on cardboard than Rickey — at least big card is.
Rickey on cards: 57 cards, $3,575.65* (checklist & OPG)
Best early card: 1914 Cracker Jack #133, $2,000
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (all cut autographs)
Click here to search his items on eBay.


Ford on cards:
 24 cards, $5,215* (checklist & OPG) (eBay) This card alone books for $4,000 with asking prices on eBay that are much higher.

 

Pee Wee Reese (played by Lucas Black)
Reese’s public moment of acceptance before a game in Cincinnati’s Crosley Field on June 21, 1947, is a feel-good movie moment that actually did happen. In the scene, Reese cracks a joke about losing the Civil War, which Robinson replies half-smiling, “Better luck next time, Pee Wee.” After that, Reese wraps his arm around Robinson’s neck, and Black’s delivery of one line — “I have family up there [in the stands] I need them to know who I am” — during the sequence is golden and “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42″ is a bit Hollywood but a nod to the annual honor we’ll again see soon. Reese’s autographs and cards are very modestly valued for a Hall of Famer.
Reese on cards: 958 cards, $20,214.50* (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1941 Play Ball #54, $600
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (all cut autographs)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Black on cards: None. (eBay)

 

Eddie Stanky (played by Jesse Luken)
Stanky had a long career in baseball — parts of four decades in the majors as a player and a manager — before coaching college baseball at South Alabama. He didn’t welcome Robinson initially, but was one of the players who stuck up for Robinson on the field in the face of Phillies manager Ben Chapman’s intense racial taunting. Stanky’s presence on memorabilia cards has intensified of late as Panini America has included him on several cards.
Stanky on cards: 70 cards, $14,333.35* (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1949 Bowman #104, $40
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (all cut autographs)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Luken on cards: None. (eBay)

Rachel Robinson (played by Nicole Beharie)
It’s interesting that Rachel Robinson doesn’t appear on any baseball cards given her high-profile work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation and with civil rights causes through the years. The Foundation was founded 40 years ago this year. Her autographs are relatively plentiful and affordable and provide a simple memento of their story. Beharie, like Boseman, has a small number of credits before this one, but not much memorabilia, either. (Interesting trivia: They both appeared in The Express, the Ernie Davis story, but did not have a scene together.)
Robinson on cards: None
Click here to search her items on eBay.

Beharie on cards:
 
None (eBay)

Ben Chapman (played by Alan Tudyk)
The ugliest examples of racial harassment in 42 come from Chapman, the Philadelphia Phillies manager and a former player, who is portrayed as a bit of a buffoon more than just pure evil. (Tudyk knows a thing about evil as Tucker in the comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, one of his many hilarious roles.) Chapman’s ugly comments weren’t only reserved for Robinson as he mentions in one scene how he insults others in the game, too, rattling off all of the things he calls them. “It’s forgotten when the game is over,” he said. Later, he is forced to change his public face because of how ugly his taunting got and that appeared in the newspapers.  He never managed past 1948, but had a 1952 Topps card as a coach for the Reds.

Chapman on cards: 47 cards, $2,714.20* (checklist & OPG)
Best Rookie Card: 1933 Goudey #191, $75
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (cut autographs only)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.


Tudyk on cards:
 2 cards, $70 (checklist & OPG) (eBay) His cards stem from his time on Serenity.

Leo Durocher (played by Christopher Meloni)
This former player-turned manager was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994 after a long career that included parts of seven decades in the game. Leo The Lip wasn’t one to shy from controversy, but he was steadfast about including Robinson on his team if it meant they’d win. His role for the 1947 Dodgers is an interesting one — he was suspended that season — and it also offers some great exchanges between Meloni and Ford as Rickey.
Durocher on cards: 180 cards, $6,227.35* (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1933 Goudey #147, $200
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (all cut autographs)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Meloni on cards: None. (eBay)

Burt Shotton (played by Max Gail)
Shotton is portrayed as a bit of a reluctant manager of the Dodgers — and his introductory speech to the team was about as low-key as it gets. However, one comment in the scene — “You Robinson? I thought so” — showed strength in where he stood. At season’s end, of course, his team was in the World Series. On cardboard, some of his items from his playing days are very, very tough — that best early card price is not a typo.
Shotton on cards: 59 cards, $11,290.35* (checklist & OPG)
Best early card: 1914 Boston Garter Color #3, $10,000
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (cut autograph only)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Gail on cards:
 
None. (eBay)

 

Red Barber (played by John C. McGinley)
Those who know McGinley from Scrubs may do a double-take when he’s first seen on screen as the Hall of Fame broadcaster. Both Barber and McGinley have a modest amount of cardboard for collectors to chase and, interestingly, McGinley wins the battle of both quantity and quality — or as Barber would say, he’s “sitting in the catbird seat.”
Barber on cards: 12 cards, $7.50* (checklist & OPG)
Best standard card: 2004 National Pastime National Treasures #13 /500, $1
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (all cut autographs)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.


McGinley on cards: 23 cards, $198.25* (checklist & OPG) (eBay) He was a Fan of the Game and then a celeb profiled on Americana cards in the past.

Dixie Walker (played by Ryan Merriman)
Another of Robinson’s teammates who struggled with the change that the Dodgers brought to baseball. How did he handle it? Where did he end up? It’s in the film.
Walker on cards: 46 cards, $1,168.15* (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1934 Goudey #39, $50
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (cut autograph only)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Merriman on cards: 
None (eBay)

Clay Hopper (played by Brett Cullen)
Hopper was Robinson’s manager in 1946 with the Montreal Royals, and the Mississippi native had to learn to change his ways quickly or find a new job. He doesn’t appear on much cardboard despite a few years in the game as a minor league manager. Sports fans might recognize Cullen as Eddie Martel, the jackass veteran quarterback in The Replacements or from a few episodes of Friday Night Lights.
Hopper on cards: 2 cards, $65 (checklist & OPG)
Best early card: 1952 Mothers Cookies #55, $50
Certified autograph cards?  No
Click here to search his cards on eBay.


Cullen on cards: 
3 cards, $47 (checklist & OPG)  (eBay) Cullen’s time as part of the Lost cast gets him on cardboard.

 —

Ralph Branca (played by Hamish Linklater)
The long-time Dodgers pitcher has a small role here, popping up in a few scenes, but none are as more memorable — and funny — than a shower scene toward the end of the film. It’s one of several surprisingly funny moments, which some might not expect in a film like this. Branca is a bit of an affordable favorite on cardboard so he’s got a few autographs in the last few years.
Branca on cards: 66 cards, $2,111.90* (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1949 Bowman #194, $100
Certified autograph cards?  Yes
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Linklater on cards: 
None. (eBay)

 

Wendell Smith (played by Andre Holland)
Robinson’s biographer and “Boswell” was a sports editor whom Rickey hired to stay with the star and help him adjust to demands of life as he helped change the game. In one scene, Smith reminds Robinson: “You aren’t the only one with something at stake here.” After all, as a black reporter, Smith wasn’t allowed in the press box in some areas of the country. In 1993, Smith, who died in 1972, was honored with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has not appeared on any trading cards.
Smith on cards:None.

Holland on cards: 
None.

Carl Furillo (played by Johnny Knight)
Another memorable name from “Dem Bums” who appears in the film in a few moments. His cardboard remains somewhat popular — check out the price of that Rookie Card.
Furillo on cards: 118 cards, $4,555.35* (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1949 Bowman #70, $150
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (cut autographs only)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Knight on cards: 
None.

Happy Chandler (played by Peter Mackenzie)
The commissioner only appears in a couple of scenes, but they’re always important — he”s the commish.
Chandler on cards: 50 cards, $1,308.15* (checklist & OPG)
Best early card: 1950-56 Callahan HOF W576 #14, $100
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (cut autographs only)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Mackenzie on cards: 
None.

Fritz Ostermueller (played by Linc Hand)
An opposing pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ostermueller wasn’t shy about pitching Robinson inside and that helped draw the Dodgers together as you’ll see in one scene and even more so in another. In 15 seasons, Ostermueller went 114-115 with a 3.99 ERA. He retired the following year.
Ostermueller on cards: 18 cards, $616.15* (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1934 Goudey #93, $175
Certified autograph cards?  No
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Hand on cards: 
None.

Enos Slaughter  (played by David Thoms)
This Hall of Famer was mentioned by name and plays a pivotal role in one scene as the Dodgers chase the pennant. Slaughter’s actions prompted an immediate reaction from the Dodgers, but Robinson insisted that his teammates take the high road with the next batter: “Just get him out.”
Slaughter on cards: 510 cards, $14,555.25 (checklist & OPG)
Rookie Card: 1948 Bowman #17, $100
Certified autograph cards?  Yes
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Thoms on cards: None.

Ed Charles (played by Dusan Brown)
What’s a member of the World Series-winning 1969 New York Mets doing here? You’ll know once you watch the sequence before the film’s credits roll.
Charles on cards: 46 cards, $381.15* (checklist & OPG)
Best Rookie Card: 1962 Topps #595, $50
Certified autograph cards?  Yes (cut autographs only)
Click here to search his cards on eBay.

Brown on cards:
None.

Other real-world players who appear on cardboard — and in the film — include: Kirby Higbe, Joe Garagiola, Pete Reiser, Bobby Bragan, Spider Jorgensen, Gene Hermanski, Hugh Casey, Andy Seminick, Herb Pennock and Eddie Dyer.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

5 Comments

Mark

Alan Tudyk was in the *movie* “Serenity,” based on the television show “Firefly.” Inkworks made cards for both, and Tudyk appears in both, but his autograph only appears in the “Serenity” set.

Posted March 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
Ben

The 1952 Topps card of Ben Chapman is actually a picture of Sam Chapman, an uncorrected error in the set.

Posted March 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
steve

I work with the Niece in law of the late Gene Hermanski, I was all set to correspond with him when I got word he had passed. I will be interested to hear what the family thinks of the movie!

Posted March 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
Tom W

Chris
Is there a planned set to be produced? I think this would be a great one to do whoever deciedes to.
I was telling my son on what it means to have to ahve a card of someone like Robinson who endured more so much and set the bar for todays athletes. I would love to own any memorablila or auto;s as this would mean more to me that anthything today. Robinson Sachel Hank Aaron Josh Gibson Larry Doby all great pioneers of Baseball. I suggest anyone who really wants to know about Baseball’s history look up Kens Barnes Baseball.
and 8 men out. The reality is nothing is perfect in any sport but sometimes when the time is right sports it can move a nation.

Posted March 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
chrisolds

Nothing announced yet, however, I wouldn’t be shocked if a card company tried to include some cards from the celebs in the film. I expect it will do very, very well after seeing it at the screening.

Posted March 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

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