Thursday, May 28, 2020

TCMA Cardinals, The Gas House Gang

A few years ago I was at the regular hotel card show buying a stack of cards for a set I was building at the time. As I was paying, the dealer, one of the few who has stuff worth looking at, handed me a paper sack. It was one of those in which you'd tote a school lunch. He said he'd bought a collection earlier in the day, and he had no use for the bag's contents so it became his 'gift' to me.

I peeked inside and saw an unruly jumble of Cardinal cards that I didn't recognize. I stuck it in my backpack and forgot about it until I was going back to the next show. Turns out that the cards were TCMA near-sets from 1974 and '75.

The first is the oddly interesting Gashouse Gang set of 31 cards issued in 1974. As with many TCMA issues, figuring out just what you have can be challenging. There are 26 different players represented. These are narrower than standard-sized modern cards, though just as tall.

Here are a few of the individual player cards. I say 'player', but player/manager Frankie Frisch and a coach or two are also in there.

This illustrates how they differ in size from standard cards:

Ernie Orsatti has two different poses, a portrait and a full-length shot of him with a bat.

There is also a card of the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Daffy. That brings us to 27 plus the Orsatti variation.

The backs of these have nominal stats for most players, a blurb for the coaches, and a notation of games played with other teams in 1934.

There are also four over-sized cards. These clock in at 3.5" x 4.5" and feature action from the '34 World Series, and one showing Dizzy Dean and Leo Durocher celebrating the title.

Here is the back of the oversized Dizzy and Leo photo card:

 And the others:

Oh, the backs are darker you say? Hold that thought, because, as with a lot of things TCMA, stuff gets a bit complicated.

You may have noticed that some cards have '1934 Cardinals' at the top, others show 'The Gashouse Gang'. I haven't seen both versions for every card, but I saw enough in my travels down eBay and COMC rabbit holes to be fairly confident that the whole bunch comes in both versions.

Then there's this....

The cards (all? some?) also have blue tint versions.

And then there's this:

I mistakenly picked up a second Daffy Dean card. When it arrived it was obviously printed on brighter paper. And the back, like those of the oversized cards, was on darker cardboard. The Trading Card Database calls these 'graybacks' but the checklist is identical. Were these reprinted by TCMA? Did someone go to the trouble to 'counterfeit' these? Surely not.

The whole deal is more than I can process. There is a 'regular set' with white backs and '1934 Cardinals' on the front, a set with white backs but with 'The Gashouse Gang' on the front. Plus a blue tint versions of both of the above. Then there are the 'dark cardboard' versions.

I may need to consult Twitter acquaintance Andrew Aronstein, son of the company's founder, Micheal Aronstein, to help me sort it all out.

Running down the checklist I found on the Trading Card Database told me I needed four cards. I was able to find them without too much hassle on SportsLots and COMC. Then, when I became aware of the multiple version fun, I decided that one of each player (and the two Orsatti poses) would be plenty for me. I went ahead and picked up a blue tint or two just as examples. 

Once COMC starts shipping again I'll have everything in hand. Then I'll turn to the other TCMA Cardinals set which was in the paper sack. That's the 1942-46 Cardinals has 'red jersey Cardinals' variations. Oy vey.


  1. Pretty convoluted. Pretty nice gift as well! I love those kinds of dealers.

    1. Convoluted is a nice way of saying it turned my brain to mush and I gave up looking at different possible combonations. ;-)

  2. Had one of these as a kid. I think the Cliff Crawford. No idea how I got it.

    1. I went to my first card shows in the late 70s. I remember guys with oddball stuff like this but I never paid it any mind.

  3. Someone sent me a couple of these recently.

    I think those type of variations are in almost every TCMA set from that time. Different tints, different card stock, at least we know none of it was on purpose (I hope).

    1. I guess that TCMA used whatever card stock they could get cheap. Maybe they made tinted versions for Renata Galasso or Fritsch Cards to sell.

  4. Never seen these before. Gotta say... not really the biggest fan of some of the lazier typewriter text on the back. They kinda give off a Broder vibe. But the front of the cards make up for it.

    As for COMC... I was stoked to finally get an email stating they were working on packaging my shipping request last week. But I just checked... and it hasn't actually shipped. They're such a tease.

    1. I made a shipping request at the beginning of April, and they immediately gave me a June shipment date. Given what's happening I was fine with that. It's just cardboard and I can wait. But I get multiple emails every day from them about auctions and consignments, etc. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    2. Good to know that that's how it's working. I'm slowly building a pile. Without the $5 credit for shipping 100 cards I might as well wait and keep adding to it.