Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Hollywood bit players on baseball cards: Part 23

Does it look like Buster Keaton is signing a baseball for Clark Gable?

That's not Buster Keaton! It's the man who was a stand-in and prop man for Keaton in several of his films in the early 1920s, Ernie Orsatti. Unlike Greg Goossen, who after his playing career became a stand-in for Gene Hackman, Orsatti's Hollywood career came first. The Los Angeles native worked on films including Our Hospitality, Sherlock Jr. and The Cameraman, while also playing first base for the Vernon Tigers, a PCL team part-owned by Keaton. Orsatti eventually caught the eye of Branch Rickey, who signed him to a contract with the Cardinals organization. Orsatti would play nine seasons in the big leagues with the Gas House Gang as a semi-regular outfielder and first baseman, hitting .306 with 10 HR and 237 RBI. He played in four World Series, on the winning side twice, most notably 1934 when he hit .318 in the Cardinals' seven-game triumph over Detroit. After his playing days he had a long career at a Hollywood talent agency. His son, Ernie Jr., was a famous stuntman in his own right, earning fame from a memorable jump filming The Poseidon Adventure. He also was Burt Reynolds's stand-in for nine years, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's stand-in in The Terminator. His grandson and great-grandson are also Hollywood stuntmen, sometimes in the same movie (for example, Avengers: Endgame).

Here's a 1935 Diamond Matchbook of Ernie Sr. I picked up recently. The text on the back was what sent me hunting down the Buster Keaton connection.

This came in a lot of about 250 matchbook I picked up off eBay recently, mostly from the Little Rock, AR area from the 1930s and 1940s. Here are some other highlights.

A couple of the matchbooks had on the inside Little Rock Travelers (Southern Association) schedules, 1939 and 1940.

The fronts of those two matchbooks. Rest your donkey in our place.

Some World-War II-era and Art Deco designs.

A few humorous cartoons.
A lot of transportation-related matchbooks which look very cool.
Two Sears matchbooks featuring some of their familiar brands. Hard to believe Kenmore washers once looked like that.
Some sweeter designs. Candy is delicious food, enjoy some every day!
Dated matchbooks are fun because most of the time you can only guess the time period. I love having a coupon that expires in 1939.

For those of you who made it this far, some highlights from the matchbooks I picked up at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago. (Coincidentally, also around 250 covers, and almost all late-30s early-40s. From all over but mostly NYC.)

1942 Tigers schedule

Some other highlights include another Doublemint full-length, Howard Johnson's, Westinghouse, a 1939 calendar, and some really cool old artwork for Wire Rope Mfg's Acid Steel.


  1. Interesting career.

    Some big names among the other ones: Double Mint, Gulf, Esso, La Salle, RCA.

  2. There's a lot of great matchbooks in there.

  3. Even from just what little you've shown, that sounds like it was a really good buy. Lots of great imagery on these books.