Mel Ott Baseball Cards

Mel Ott (1909-1958) was in Major League Baseball with the New York Giants from 1926 to 1947. Ott finished his career with a .304 batting average, 2,876 hits, 511 home runs, and 1,860 runs batted in. He was a twelve time All Star, the 1934 NL RBI leader, and a World Series champion in 1933.

Most significantly, he was a six time NL home run leader, which was a record at the time. He was the first NL player to pass 500 home runs.

Ott was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951 with 87.2% of the vote on the third ballot. Additionally, the San Francisco Giants retired his No. 4 jersey.

Born in Gretna, Louisiana, Ott grew up batting left-handed and throwing right handed. He was also small in size, and by the time he was in the majors, he was only 5 feet 9 inches and 170 pounds.

Yet, his small stature did not deter Ott when he was young (nor when he matured). He was a standout at several sports, particularly baseball. While he was in high school, he was too talented for the local team, and he played semi pro ball a few days a week.

By the age of 14, Ott was already known for his power despite his small size, and he was helping to earn money through baseball.

Unfortunately, the local minor league team, the New Orleans Pelicans, refused to sign Ott because of his size. Ott submitted and sought a job at a lumber mill.

Ott was a sensation on the company baseball team. Nobody was more impressed than the owner of the lumber mill company who, on a trip to New York, convinced the General Manager of the New York Giants to give Ott a tryout. When Ott was hesitant to take the time off, the lumber mill owner insisted and bought him a ticket. As they say, the rest is history.

Ott immediately impressed the New York talent, and the Giants GM stated that Ott would be, “One of the greatest left handed hitters the National League has ever seen.” Ott was signed to a professional contract. He was only 16 years old.

After paying his dues for a few years as a part time player, Ott was the regular right fielder in 1929. From 1928 to 1945, Ott would lead the NY Giants in home runs. No player has ever had a longer streak in any Triple Crown category (BA, HR, RBI). Ott became the all time NL home run leader in 1937, and he was dethroned by Willie Mays in 1966.

Ott’s home run abilities have largely faded into history. On the one hand, critics cite that 63% of his home runs came at home, possibly being helped by the Giants’ ballpark, the Polo Grounds. Others argue that NL hitters had a much harder time hitting home runs due to the differences in ball specifications at the time. Controversy over home run records are nothing new.

Another interesting strength of Ott’s was ability to reach base on balls. Although the skill was underappreciated for the time, Ott led the NL in walks six times. He has various notable stats on the subject, such as five walks in a game three times, six walks in a double header, and seven consecutive walks.

Ott played in three World Series, winning in 1933, and he was an important part of every championship run.

Ott played baseball during an odd time for card collecting in which the country was busy with the Great Depression and World War II. There are only a few good sets of Ott, and this article will take you through them.

1933 George C. Miller Mel Ott

This unnumbered set has 32 cards with 16 players from the NL and 16 players from the AL. The cards measure 2 ⅜” x 2 ⅞. It was produced by George C. Miller and Co, and the cards were distributed in one cent toffee packs.

For reference, PSA has 794 cards from this set registered, so the set is not exceedingly common. About 20 of those cards are Ott copies.

Since this card is not sold very often, prices are harder to determine. In May of 2020, a PSA 1 sold for $140. A quality PSA 5 sold for $3,000 in May of 2018.

1933 Goudey Mel Ott

The 1933 Goudey has 240 cards that measure 2 ⅜” x 2 ⅞”. Ott is a key to the set, in addition to dozens of Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Nap Lajoie. Ott sits at card #127.

This set is important to the hobby, and it is considered one of the big three, along with the T206 and 1952 Topps. The 1933 Goudey is larger with thicker card stock than predecessors, has over 200 entries, and it is beautiful.

PSA has over 90,000 cards registered, and over 600 of those cards are Ott copies.

The most recent sale of a Mint copy was for $84,000 in January of 2019. With a budget of $1,000, a collector would have to drop to a PSA 5 or 6.

1941 Goudey Mel Ott

By 1941, the Goudey brand had dropped to 33 cards. Each card remained 2 ⅜” x 2 ⅞”. Mel Ott and Carl Hubbell are the only major keys to the set. Ott is at card #33.

PSA has 1,900 cards from this set preserved. About 80 of those cards are Ott copies. His cards come in blue, green, red, and yellow backgrounds.

Prices are hard to determine given the scarcity of sales and variety of backgrounds. For some idea, a red background card sold for $2,400 for a PSA 8, while a PSA 7 yellow background sold for $990.

1939 Play Ball Mel Ott

This set had 161 cards, and they measured 2 ½” x 3 ⅛”. The set is best known for rookie cards of Ted Williams and an early card of Joe DiMaggio. Ott’s card is at #51.

22,000 cards from this set are registered with PSA. Over 380 of those cards are Ott copies.

Mint copies of this card have sold for around $1,000 to $3,000 since 2005.

1940 Play Ball Mel Ott

Ott sits at card #88 in this 240 card set that measures 2 ½” x 3 ⅛”. There are several Hall of Famers on the set, including Joe DiMaggio at #1.

PSA alone has 24,000 cards registered, and nearly 300 cards are Ott copies. With a budget of $1,000, a PSA 8 or lower should be doable.


Ott is a major part of this transition era in baseball. He was a heavy home run hitter for the time, but his talent is often overshadowed by heavier hitters soon to come. Overall, Mel Ott is an important part of a few major sets from his era, and his card help to commemorate a major NL home run champion.