Card of the Day: 1940 Play Ball Bob Klinger

Today’s Card of the Day is the fourth time that we are featuring Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Bob Klinger here. He played for the Pirates during the 1938-43 seasons, went off to wartime service for two years, then was part of the team briefly in 1946, without getting into a game. He put together some solid numbers over the years, going 62-58, 3.74 in 990.2 innings during his time with the Pirates.

I probably wouldn’t be featuring Klinger here for the fourth time if I didn’t just put out a Tony Pena article. He had a bit better career for the Pirates and overall, so he would usually be the first choice on a day like today. Both players were born on this date. Klinger’s last appearance was in October of 2021. There’s another part to that story. Klinger appeared with other players in two of those articles, so this is only his second solo article. It may also be his final appearance here because he has no other cards showing him on the Pirates. I might stretch the guidelines in the future because he’s in a set that doesn’t feature any Pirates players, but I would like to share that set at some point.

Anyway, let’s get into the article for Klinger, who appears here on his 1940 Play Ball card. It’s his easiest card to find for sale. They are somewhat plentiful on Ebay. He’s card #165 in the set.

Here’s the front of the card:

Another quick interesting story, at least in my mind. I wrote about Klinger’s 1939 Play Ball card, then bought one on Ebay before you saw the article. I love the action pose look more than portrait style pictures like this one. The uniforms are what sells the card sometimes for me. You can’t really see much here. He appeared twice in the 1941 Double Play set, so I wrote about both of those cards. I already had those cards as part of my collection. I like this design the best out of the three, but I do not currently own this particular card. That might change by the time I get down to the pricing section…we will see.

I like the use of baseball equipment as part of the design here. They have a bat, two baseballs, a glove and a catcher’s mask. I also like the banner look for the name. These cards do something interesting on the front. They have “Bob” in quotes because his real name is Robert. That’s almost too obvious to deem it to be some sort of nickname. They do that for almost everyone except once you get to someone like Joe DiMaggio. Not only was Joe short for Joseph, as everyone in the world knows, but it was also Americanized from his real first name, Giuseppe. It’s the same as Topps putting Bob on Roberto Clemente cards.

The other thing with Play Ball and names is sometimes they went by nicknames on the cards, while sometimes they includes names and nicknames. There was really no standard to it.

If you collect this set, you’ll find some retired players, like Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Here’s the back of the card:

I like the scouting report on the back. Those are hard to find from back in the day. He didn’t strike out many batters back then, not that anyone really did except a few pitchers, but the good control seems like a legit report for him. He probably changed pace on a lot of his pitches, but that’s talking about a changeup as we know it now. Many pitchers back then would try to throw off timing of hitters, but most of the hitters were taking shorter swings, with direct paths to the ball, as opposed to the free swingers going for launch angles like you see up and down every lineup now.

I went into a bit of detail in our last 1940 Play Ball card article about the Superman offer/ad on the back. Basically, he was just becoming really popular then, so GUM Inc. decided to capitalize on that new market. The cards are popular now as well with some non-sports card collectors.

One final detail on the back. I mentioned Klinger was born on June 4th, as you can see above. However, he was born in 1908, not 1910. My guess is that he got a later start to his career, but he didn’t want it to appear that way, so he shaved off two years. I don’t know that as a fact, but it happened quite often back then. Players would look better for scouts if they were younger and had time to get better. Occasionally it went the other way so a kid could get into pro ball earlier.

If you’re interested in this card, you have 28 options on Ebay right now. There’s a PSA 7 for $142. A PSA 6 for $124. A PSA 5 for $81 or best offer. A PSA 4 for $50, then ungraded cards in the $15 to $40 range. You probably want to be over $25 if you want a decent ungraded one. There’s also an autographed one for $65 that is authenticated. He passed away in 1977, so it’s been a while since he’s signed anything. I wouldn’t say his very tough in comparison to some players, but relative to a more recent player, he would be very tough to find.