St. Louis Brown Don Gutteridge Shocked Over 1944 Play Ball Card

Posted June 30th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Don Gutteridge, Jim Bouton, St. Louis Browns

I’ve just read the eye-opening Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession

This is more history of the card INDUSTRY than I ever imagined.  The book is not a love letter to card makers.  Readers will recoil over some early behaviors of Bowman and Topps. For instance, Jim Bouton shares how he felt a Topps exec bullied minor leaguers into signing away their exclusive card appearance rights for a $5 retainer. Bouton didn’t bite, insisting his father should review the contract first.

Instead of interviewing card company officials, I’d rather know more about how it felt to be a face on those cards. When I wrote to former St. Louis Brown Don Gutteridge in 2000 about his 1944 “Play Ball” card, I got a surprising letter in return:

“I do not even remember giving anyone permission to use my name on a card. In fact, I did not see the 1944 (Play Ball) card until a few years ago (in the 1990s) when someone sent me the card and asked me to please sign it for them. The company never contacted me. In fact, I would like to have a couple of those cards for my own mementos. I think it’s very nice to have your picture and data on a card. It is so nice to be remembered.”

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