The T206 photo project

Editor’s note: For the #StayHomeWithSABR video presentation of this article, click here!

The SABR Baseball Cards Research Committee is working with tobacco card enthusiast Matt Haynes of Alton, IL, to assemble the most complete
(virtual) collection of T206 source images available.

A graphic designer by trade, Matt’s inspiration in beginning this project was the simple beauty and artistry of the T206 cards themselves. Like many of our readers, Matt was an avid collector in his youth but took a long hiatus from the Hobby when “real life” took over. It was the proximity of a local card shop to a new job that lured Matt back into collecting, first focusing on top-shelf superstars of the 1950s but now exclusively on the 524-card set known as the Monster.

Starting from more than 40 images already cataloged at the T206 Resource photo gallery, adding the finds of several other hobbyists from card forums such as Net54 Baseball and Tobacco Row, and adding images from his own research, Matt was able to assemble 86 card-image pairs for this initial post, already the most available anywhere on the Web. Now we are asking you, our readers, for your help in finding more. (See contact info at end of post.)

Please excuse some wonky formatting as Jason makes updates to the table, including the addition of more unmatched T206 cards to speed up your photo hunts.

CURRENT COUNT: 213/524

240240ImagePlayerTeamSource
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Ed Abbaticchio FrontAbbaticchio, Ed
(Blue Sleeves)
PIT
undefinedAbbaticchio, Ed
(Brown Sleeves)
PIT
Abbott, FredTOL1903 Carl Horner portrait
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bill Abstein FrontAbstein, BillPIT
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Doc Adkins FrontAdkins, DocBAL
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Whitey Alperman FrontAlperman, WhiteyBRO
Ames, Red
(Hands At Chest)
NY
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Red Ames FrontAmes, Red
(Hands Above Head)
NY
(NL)
undefinedAmes, Red
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO John Anderson FrontAnderson, JohnPRO
Arellanes, FrankBOS
(AL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Harry Armbruster FrontArmbruster, HermanSTP
Arndt, HarryPRO
Atz, JakeCHI
(AL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Home Run Baker FrontBaker, FrankPHI
(AL)
Ball, Neal
(CLE)
CLE
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Neal Ball FrontBall, Neal
(NY)
NY
(AL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Jap Barbeau FrontBarbeau, JapSTL
(NL)
Barger, CyROC
Barry, JackPHI
(AL)
Barry, ShadMIL
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Jack Bastian FrontBastian, JackSAT
Batch, EmilROC
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Johnny Bates FrontBates, JohnnyBOS
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Harry Bay FrontBay, HarryNAS
Beaumont, GingerBOS
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Fred Beck FrontBeck, FredBOS
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Beals Becker FrontBecker, BealsBOS
(NL)
Beckley, JakeKC
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO George Bell FrontBell, George
(Hands Above Head)
BRO
undefinedBell, George
(Follow Thru)
BRO
undefinedBender, Chief
(No Trees)
PHI
(AL)
Bender, Chief
(With Trees)
PHI
(AL)
Bender, Chief
(Portrait)
PHI
(AL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bill Bergen FrontBergen, Bill
(Catching)
BRO
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bill Bergen FrontBergen, Bill
(Batting)
BRO
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Heinie Berger FrontBerger, HeinieCLE
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bill Bernhard FrontBernhard, BillNAS
Bescher, Bob
(Hands In Air)
CIN
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bob Bescher FrontBescher, Bob
(Portrait)
CIN
undefinedBirmingham, JoeCLE
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Lena Blackburne FrontBlackburne, LenaPRO
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Jack Bliss FrontBliss, JackSTL
(NL)
Bowerman, FrankBOS
(NL)
Bradley, Bill
(Portrait)
CLE
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bill Bradley FrontBradley, Bill
(With Bat)
CLE
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Dave Brain FrontBrain, DaveBUF
Bransfield, KittyPHI
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Roy Brashear FrontBrashear, RoyKC
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Ted Breitenstein FrontBreitenstein, TedNOLA
undefinedBresnahan, Roger
(Batting)
STL
(NL)
undefinedBresnahan, Roger
(Portrait)
STL
(NL)
Bridwell, Al
(Portrait – No Cap)
NY
(NL)
Bridwell, Al
(Portrait – With Cap)
NY
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO George Browne FrontBrown, George
(CHI)
CHI
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO George Browne FrontBrown, George
(WAS)
WAS
Brown, Mordecai
(Chi On Shirt)
CHI
(NL)
Brown, Mordecai
(Cubs On Shirt)
CHI
(NL)
Brown, Mordecai
(Portrait)
CHI
(NL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Al Burch FrontBurch, Al
(Batting)
BRO
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Al Burch FrontBurch, Al
(Fielding)
BRO
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Fred Burchell FrontBurchell, FredBUF
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Jimmy Burke FrontBurke, JimmyIND
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bill Burns FrontBurns, BillCHI
(AL)
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Donie Bush FrontBush, DonieDET
Butler, JohnROC
1909-11 American Tobacco Company T206 White Border #NNO Bobby Byrne FrontByrne, BobbySTL
(NL)
Camnitz, Howie
(Arms Folded)
PIT
undefinedCamnitz, Howie
(Arm At Side)
PIT
Camnitz, Howie
(Hands Above Head)
PIT
Campbell, BillyCIN
Carey, ScoopsMEM
Carr, CharleyIND
Carrigan, BillBOS
(AL)
Casey, DocMON
Cassidy, PeterBAL
undefinedChance, Frank
(Batting)
CHI
(NL)
Chance, Frank
(Portrait – Red)
CHI
(NL)
Chance, Frank
(Portrait – Yellow)
CHI
(NL)
Chappelle, BillROC
Charles, ChappieSTL
(NL)
Chase, Hal
(Holding Trophy)
NY
(AL)
Chase, Hal
(Portrait – Blue)
NY
(AL)
undefinedChase, Hal
(Portrait – Pink)
NY
(AL)
Chase, Hal
(Black Cap)
NY
(AL)
Chase, Hal
(White Cap)
NY
(AL)
Chesbro, Jack NY
(AL)
Cicotte, EdBOS
(AL)
Clancy, BillBUF
Clark, JoshCOL
Clarke, Fred
(Batting)
PIT
Clarke, Fred
(Portrait)
PIT
Clarke, J.J.CLE
Clymer, BillCOL
Cobb, Ty
(Portrait – Green)
DET
Cobb, Ty
(Portrait – Red)
DET
Cobb, Ty
(Bat Off Shoulder)
DET
Cobb, Ty
(Bat On Shoulder)
DET
Coles, Cad AUG
Collins, EddiePHI
(AL)
Collins, JimmyMIN
Congalton, BunkCOL
Conroy, Wid
(Fielding)
WAS
Conroy, Wid
(With Bat)
WAS
Covaleski, HarryPHI
(NL)
undefinedCrandall, Doc
(Portrait No Cap)
NY
(NL)
Crandall, Doc
(Portrait With Cap)
NY
(NL)
Cranston, BillMEM
Cravath, GavvyMIN
Crawford, Sam
(Throwing)
DET
Crawford, Sam
(With Bat)
DET
Cree, BirdieNY
(AL)
Criger, LouSTL
(AL)
Criss, DodeSTL
(AL)
Cross, MonteIND
Dahlen, Bill
(BOS)
BOS
(NL)
Dahlen, Bill
(BRO)
BRO
Davidson, PaulIND
Davis, GeorgeCHI
(AL)
Davis, Harry
(Davis On Front)
PHI
(AL)
Davis, Harry
(H. Davis On Front)
PHI
(AL)
Delehanty, FrankLOU
Delehanty, JimWAS
Demmitt, Ray
(NY)
NY
(AL)
Demmitt, Ray
(STL, AL)
STL
(AL)
Dessau, RubeBAL
Devlin, ArtNY
(NL)
undefinedDeVore, JoshNY
(NL)
Dineen, BillSTL
(AL)
Donlin, Mike
(Fielding)
NY
(NL)
Donlin, Mike
(Seated)
NY
(NL)
Donlin, Mike
(With Bat)
NY
(NL)
Donohue, JiggsCHI
(AL)
Donovan, Wild Bill
(Portrait)
DET
Donovan, Wild Bill
(Throwing)
DET
Dooin, RedPHI
(NL)
Doolan, Mickey
(Batting)
PHI
(NL)
Doolan, Mickey
(Fielding)
PHI
(NL)
Doolin, MickeyPHI
(NL)
Dorner, GusKC
Dougherty, Patsy
(Arm In Air)
CHI
(AL)
Dougherty, Patsy
(Portrait)
CHI
(AL)
Downey, Tom
(Batting)
CIN
Downey, Tom
(Fielding)
CIN
Downs, JerryMIN
Doyle, Joe
(N.Y. Nat’l)
NY
(NL)
Doyle, Joe
(N.Y.)
NY
(AL)
Doyle, Larry
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
Doyle, Larry
(Throwing)
NY
(NL)
Doyle, Larry
(With Bat)
NY
(NL)
Dubuc, JeanCIN
undefinedDuffy, HughCHI
(AL)
Chicago Daily News, 1910
Dunn, JackBAL
Dunn, JoeBRO
undefinedDurham, BullNY
(NL)
Dygert, JimmyPHI
(AL)
Easterly, TedCLE
Egan, DickCIN
Elberfeld, Kid
(Portrait – NY)
NY
(AL)
Elberfeld, Kid
(Portrait – WAS)
WAS
Elberfeld, Kid
(Fielding)
WAS
Ellam, RoyNAS
Engle, ClydeNY
(AL)
Evans, SteveSTL
(NL)
Evers, Johnny
(Portrait)
CHI
(NL)
Evers, Johnny
(CHI On Shirt – Yellow Sky)
CHI
(NL)
Evers, Johnny
(Cubs On Shirt – Blue Sky)
CHI
(NL)
Ewing, BobCIN
Ferguson, CecilBOS
(NL)
Ferris, HobeSTL
(AL)
Fiene, Lou
(Portrait)
CHI
(AL)
Fiene, Lou
(Throwing)
CHI
(AL)
Flanagan, SteamerBUF
Fletcher, ArtNY
(NL)
Flick, ElmerCLE
Ford, RussNY
(AL)
Foster, EdCHA
Freeman, JerryTOL
Frill, JohnNY
(AL)
Fritz, CharlieNOLA
Fromme, ArtCIN
Gandil, ChickCHI
(AL)
Ganley, BobWAS
Ganzel, JohnROC
Gasper, HarryCIN
Geyer, RubeSTL
(NL)
Gibson, GeorgePIT
Gilbert, BillySTL
(NL)
Goode, WilburCLE
Graham, BillSTL
(AL)
Graham, PeachesBOS
(NL)
Gray, DollyWAS
Greminger, EdMTGM
Griffith, Clark
(Batting)
CIN
Griffith, Clark
(Portrait)
CIN
Grimshaw, MooseTOR
Groom, BobWAS
Guiheen, TomPOR
Hahn, EdCHI
(AL)
Hall, BobBAL
Hallman, BillKC
Hannifan, JackJC
Hart, BillLR
Hart, JimmyMTGM
Hartsel, TopsyPHI
(AL)
Hayden, JackIND
Helm, J. RossCOL
Hemphill, CharlieNY
(AL)
Herzog, Buck
(BOS)
BOS
(NL)
Herzog, Buck
(NY)
NY
(NL)
Hickman, GordonMOB
Hinchman, BillCLE
Hinchman, HarryTOL
Hoblitzell, DickCIN
Hoffman, DannySTL
(AL)
Hoffman, IzzyPRO

Hofman, SollyCHI
(NL)
Hooker, BockLYN
Howard, DelCHI
(NL)
Howard, ErnieSAV
Howell, Harry
(Hand At Waist)
STL
(AL)
Howell, Harry
(Portrait)
STL
(AL)
Huggins, Miller
(Hands At Mouth)
CIN
Huggins, Miller
(Portrait)
CIN
Hulswitt, RudySTL
(NL)
Hummel, JohnBRO
Hunter, GeorgeBRO
Isbell, FrankCHI
(AL)
Jacklitsch, FredPHI
(NL)
Jackson, JimmyBAL
Jennings, Hughie
(One Hand Showing)
DET
Jennings, Hughie
(Two Hands Showing)
DET
Jennings, Hughie
(Portrait)
DET
Johnson, Walter
(Glove At Chest)
WAS
undefinedJohnson, Walter
(Portrait)
WAS
Jones, Fielder
(Hands At Hips)
CHI
(AL)
undefinedJones, Fielder
(Portrait)
CHI
(AL)
undefinedJones, DavyDET
Jones, TomSTL
(AL)
Jordan, DutchATL
Jordan, Tim
(Batting)
BRO
Jordan, Tim
(Portrait)
BRO
Joss, Addie
(Hands At Chest)
CLE
Joss, Addie
(Portrait)
CLE
Karger, EdCIN
Keeler, Willie
(Portrait)
NY
(AL)
Keeler, Willie
(With Bat)
NY
(AL)
Kelley, JoeTOR
Kiernan, J.F.COL
Killian, Ed
(Hands At Chest)
DET
Killian, Ed
(Portrait)
DET
King, FrankDAN
Kisinger, RubeBUF
Kleinow, Red
(BOS – Catching)
BOS
(AL)
Kleinow, Red
(NY – Catching)
NY
(AL)
Kleinow, Red
(NY – With Bat)
NY
(AL)
Kling, JohnnyCHI
(NL)
Knabe, OttoPHI
(NL)
Knight, Jack
(Portrait)
NY
(AL)
Knight, Jack
(With Bat)
NY
(AL)
Konetchy, Ed
(Glove Above Head)
STL
(NL)
Konetchy, Ed
(Glove Near Ground)
STL
(NL)
Krause, Harry
(Pitching)
PHI
(AL)
Krause, Harry
(Portrait)
PHI
(AL)
Kroh, RubeCHI
(NL)
Kruger, OttoCOL
Lafitte, JamesMAC
Lajoie, Nap
(Portrait)
CLE
Lajoie, Nap
(Throwing)
CLE
undefinedLajoie, Nap
(With Bat)
CLE
Lake, Joe
(NY)
NY
(AL)
Lake, Joe
(STL – Ball In Hand)
STL
(AL)
Lake, Joe
(STL – No Ball)
STL
(AL)
LaPorte, FrankNY
(AL)
Latham, ArlieNY
(NL)
Lattimore, BillTOL
Lavender, JimmyPRO
Leach, Tommy
(Bending Over)
PIT
Leach, Tommy
(Portrait)
PIT
Leifield, Lefty
(Batting)
PIT
Leifield, Lefty
(Pitching)
PIT
Lennox, EdBRO
Lentz, HarryLR
Liebhardt, GlennCLE
Lindaman, ViveBOS
(NL)
undefinedLipe, PerryRIC
Livingstone, PaddyPHI
(AL)
undefinedLobert, HansCIN
Lord, HarryBOS
(AL)
Lumley, HarryBRO
undefinedLundgren, Carl
(CHI)
CHI
(NL)
undefinedLundgren, Carl
(KC)
KC
Maddox, NickPIT
Magie, SherryPHI
(NL)
Magee, Sherry
(Portrait)
PHI
(NL)
undefinedMagee, Sherry
(With Bat)
PHI
(NL)
Malarkey, BillBUF
Maloney, BillyROC
Manion, GeorgeCOL
Manning, Rube
(Batting)
NY
(AL)
Manning, Rube
(Pitching)
NY
(AL)
Marquard, Rube
(Hands At Side)
NY
(NL)
Marquard, Rube
(Pitching)
NY
(NL)
undefinedMarquard, Rube
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
Marshall, DocBRO
Mathewson, Christy
(Dark Cap)
NY
(NL)
undefinedMathewson, Christy
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
Mathewson, Christy
(White Cap)
NY
(NL)
Mattern, AlBOS
(NL)
McAleese, JohnSTL
(AL)
McBride, GeorgeWAS
McCauley, PatPOR
McCormick, MooseNY
(NL)
McElveen, PryorBRO
undefinedMcGann, DanMIL
McGinley, JimTOR
McGinnity, JoeNWK
McGlynn, StoneyMIL
undefinedMcGraw, John
(Finger In Air)
NY
(NL)
undefinedMcGraw, John
(Glove At Hip)
NY
(NL)
undefinedMcGraw, John
(Portrait – No Cap)
NY
(NL)
undefinedMcGraw, John
(Portrait – With Cap)
NY
(NL)
McIntyre, Harry
(BRO)
BRO
undefinedMcIntyre, Harry
(BRO & CHI)
BRO/CHI
McIntyre, MattyDET
McLean, LarryCIN
McQuillan, George
(Ball In Hand)
PHI
(NL)
McQuillan, George
(With Bat)
PHI
(NL)
undefinedMerkle, Fred
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
Merkle, Fred
(Throwing)
NY
(NL)
Merritt, GeorgeJC
Meyers, ChiefNY
(NL)
Milan, ClydeWAS
Miller, DotsPIT
Miller, MollyDAL
Milligan, BillJC
Mitchell, FredTOR
Mitchell, MikeCIN
Moeller, DanJC
Molesworth, CarltonBIR
Moran, HerbiePRO
Moran, PatCHI
(NL)
Moriarty, GeorgeDET
Mowrey, MikeCIN
Mullaney, DomJAX
Mullin
(UER Mullen), George
(Portrait)
DET
Mullin, George
(Throwing)
DET
undefinedMullin, George
(With Bat)
DET
Murphy, Danny
(Batting)
PHI
(AL)
Murphy, Danny
(Throwing)
PHI
(AL)
Murray, Red
(Batting)
NY
(NL)
Murray, Red
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
Myers, Chief
(Batting)
NY
(NL)
Myers, Chief
(Fielding)
NY
(NL)
Nattress, BillyBUF
Needham, TomCHI
(NL)
Nicholls, Simon
(Hands On Knees)
PHI
(AL)
Nichols, Simon
(Batting)
PHI
(AL)
Niles, HarryBOS
(AL)
Oakes, RebelCIN
Oberlin, FrankMIN
O’Brien, PeterSTP
O’Hara, Bill
(NY)
NY
(NL)
O’Hara, Bill
(STL)
STL
(NL)
Oldring, Rube
(Batting)
PHI
(AL)
Oldring, Rube
(Fielding)
PHI
(AL)
undefinedO’Leary, Charley
(Hands On Knees)
DET
O’Leary, Charley
(Portrait)
DET
O’Neil, William J.MIN
Orth, AlLYN
Otey, WilliamNOR
Overall, Orval
(Hand At Face Level)
CHI
(NL)
Overall, Orval
(Hands Waist Level)
CHI
(NL)
Overall, Orval
(Portrait)
CHI
(NL)
Owen, FrankCHI
(AL)
Paige, GeorgeCHA
undefinedParent, FredCHI
(AL)
Paskert, DodeCIN
Pastorius, JimBRO
Pattee, HarryBRO
undefinedPayne, FredCHI
(AL)
Chicago Daily News, 1909
Pelty, Barney
(Horizontal)
STL
(AL)
Pelty, Barney
(Vertical)
STL
(AL)
Perdue, HubNAS
Perring, GeorgeCLE
Persons, ArchMTGM
Pfeffer, FrancisCHI
(NL)
Pfeister, Jake
(Seated)
CHI
(NL)
Pfeister, Jake
(Throwing)
CHI
(NL)
Phelan, JimmyPRO
Phelps, EddieSTL
(NL)
Phillippe, DeaconPIT
Pickering, OllieMIN
Plank, EddiePHI
(AL)
Poland, PhilBAL
Powell, JackSTL
(AL)
Powers, MikePHI
(AL)
Purtell, BillyCHI
(AL)
Puttman, AmbroseLOU
Quillen, LeeMIN
Quinn, JackNY
(AL)
Randall, NewtMIL
Raymond, BugsNY
(NL)
Reagan, EdNOLA
Reulbach, Ed
(Glove Showing)
CHI
(NL)
Reulbach, Ed
(No Glove Showing)
CHI
(NL)
Revelle, DutchRIC
Rhoades, Bob
(Hands At Chest)
CLE
Rhoades, Bob
(Right Arm Extended)
CLE
Rhodes, CharlieSTL
(NL)
Ritchey, ClaudeBOS
(NL)
Ritter, LouKC
Rockenfeld, IkeMTGM
Rossman, ClaudeDET
Rucker, Nap
(Portrait)
BRO
Rucker, Nap
(Throwing)
BRO
Rudolph, DickTOR
Ryan, RayROA
Schaefer, Germany
(DET)
DET
Schaefer, Germany
(WAS)
WAS
Schirm, GeorgeBUF
Schlafly, LarryNWK
Schlei, Admiral
(Batting)
NY
(NL)
Schlei, Admiral
(Catching)
NY
(NL)
Schlei, Admiral
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
Schmidt, Boss
(Portrait)
DET
Schmidt, Boss
(Throwing)
DET
Schreck, OsseeCOL
undefinedSchulte, Wildfire
(Back View)
CHI
(NL)
Schulte, Wildfire
(Front View)
CHI
(NL)
Scott, JimCHI
(AL)
Seitz, CharlesNOR
Seymour, Cy
(Batting)
NY
(NL)
Seymour, Cy
(Portrait)
NY
(NL)
Seymour, Cy
(Throwing)
NY
(NL)
Shannon, SpikeKC
Sharpe, BudNWK
undefinedShaughnessy, ShagROA
Shaw, AlSTL
(NL)
Shaw, HunkyPRO
Sheckard, Jimmy
(Glove Showing)
CHI
(NL)
Sheckard, Jimmy
(No Glove Showing)
CHI
(NL)
Shipke, BillWAS
Slagle, JimmyBAL
Smith, CarlosSHRV
undefinedSmith, Frank
(F. Smith)
CHI
(AL)
Smith, Frank
(White Cap)
CHI
(AL)
Smith, Frank
(CHI & BOS)
CHI/BOS
Smith, HappyBRO
Smith, HeinieBUF
Smith, SidATL
Snodgrass, Fred
(Batting)
NY
(NL)
Snodgrass, Fred
(Catching)
NY
(NL)
Spade, BobCIN
undefinedSpeaker, TrisBOS
(AL)
Spencer, TubbyBOS
(AL)
Stahl, Jake
(Glove Shows)
BOS
(AL)
undefinedStahl, Jake
(No Glove Shows)
BOS
(AL)
Stanage, OscarDET
Stark, DollySAT
Starr, CharlieBOS
(NL)
Steinfeldt, Harry
(Portrait)
CHI
(NL)
Steinfeldt, Harry
(With Bat)
CHI
(NL)
Stephens, JimSTL
(AL)
Stone, GeorgeSTL
(AL)
Stovall, George
(Batting)
CLE
Stovall, George
(Portrait)
CLE
Strang, SamBAL
Street, Gabby
(Catching)
WAS
Street, Gabby
(Portrait)
WAS
Sullivan, BillyCHI
(AL)
Summers, EdDET
Sweeney, BillBOS
(NL)
Sweeney, JeffNY
(AL)
Tannehill, JesseWAS
Tannehill, Lee
(L. Tannehill On Front)
CHI
(AL)
Tannehill, Lee
(Tannehill On Front)
CHI
(AL)
undefinedTaylor, DummyBUF
undefinedTenney, FredNY
(NL)
Thebo, TonyWAC
Thielman, JakeLOU
Thomas, IraPHI
(AL)
Thornton, WoodieMOB
Tinker, Joe
(Bat Off Shoulder)
CHI
(NL)
Tinker, Joe
(Bat On Shoulder)
CHI
(NL)
Tinker, Joe
(Hands On Knees)
CHI
(NL)
Tinker, Joe
(Portrait)
CHI
(NL)
Titus, JohnPHI
(NL)
Turner, TerryCLE
Unglaub, BobWAS
Violat, JuanJAX
Waddell, Rube
(Portrait)
STL
(AL)
Waddell, Rube
(Throwing)
STL
(AL)
Wagner, Heinie
(Bat On Left Shoulder)
BOS
(AL)
Wagner, Heinie
(Bat On Right Shoulder)
BOS
(AL)
Wagner, HonusPIT
Wallace, BobbySTL
(AL)
Walsh, EdCHI
(AL)
Warhop, JackNY
(AL)
Weimer, JakeNY
(NL)
Westlake, JamesDAN
Wheat, ZackBRO
White, Doc
(Pitching)
CHI
(AL)
undefinedWhite, Doc
(Portrait)
CHI
(AL)
White, FoleyHOU
White, JackBUF
Wilhelm, Kaiser
(Hands At Chest)
BRO
Wilhelm, Kaiser
(With Bat)
BRO
Willett, EdDET
Willetts, Ed
(UER)
DET
Williams, JimmySTL
(AL)
Willis, Vic
(Portrait)
PIT
Willis, Vic
(Batting)
STL
(NL)
Willis, Vic
(Throwing)
STL
(NL)
Wilson, OwenPIT
undefinedWiltse, Hooks
(Pitching)
NY
(NL)
Harwell Collection (1904)
undefinedWiltse, Hooks
(Portrait – No Cap)
NY
(NL)
Wiltse, Hooks
(Portrait – With Cap)
NY
(NL)
Wright, LuckyTOL
Young, Cy
(With Glove)
CLE
Young, Cy
(Bare Hand)
CLE
Young, Cy
(Portrait)
CLE
Young, IrvMIN
Zimmerman, HeinieCHI
(NL)
Checklist based on T206Resource.com and unmatched card images from Trading Card Database

If you have additions to the project, please let us know in the comments. You can also use our Contact form or tag us on Twitter @sabrbbcards. Finally, for related card-photo matching projects see–

50 years ago today…

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, through-the-mail communication was an invaluable resource for collectors. So much so that publications like Marshall Oreck’s The Collector’s Directory and Irv Lerner’s Who’s Who in Card Collecting were compiled to help everyone connect. And connect they did. But it was in 1969 that something happened to change the course of hobby history — a gathering of multiple sports collectors in one place, at one time finally became a viable concept. That year, small gatherings or “conventions” of around a dozen collectors started popping up around the country and were documented in hobby periodicals of the day.

Mike Aronstein sorting 1963 Topps.

My father, Michael P. Aronstein, hosted his own “convention” at the Aronstein family home on March 15, 1970 — 50 years ago today. For some perspective, I asked hobby historian David Kathman (trdcrdkid on Net54) to provide his thoughts regarding the occasion:

“Your dad’s March 15, 1970 ‘convention’ wasn’t the first such hobby convention, but it was the largest one up to that point (with 19 attendees), the first one in New York state, and the second one on the east coast (after a 9-person gathering at Mike Anderson’s house in South Weymouth in early December 1969)… but your dad’s 1970 convention is rightly considered a landmark because of the people who were there, several of whom became very influential in the hobby, and the fact that it was the first in the New York area.”

There’s quite a bit of info out there regarding the hobby pioneers who attended so I won’t delve too much into their individual stories here. I do encourage you to research them on your own, however. They’ve all got unique stories and -as is the case with most things in our hobby- you’ll be taken down a rabbit hole that goes off in a million different interesting directions.

Here’s a postcard from hobby pioneer Crawford Foxwell to my father confirming he’d be attending the convention along with Tom Collier. Keep in mind Tom Collier was the “TC” in TCMA but they didn’t partner up until 1972. Third image is a wire photo depicting Foxwell with his collection in 1975.

Photos taken by my father on March 15, 1970 during the convention at his home. Note my sister, Melina with the “Welcome Collectors” sign (we’re still eight years pre-Andrew here). Now see if you can spot the uncut sheet of 1970 Topps hidden in there somewhere.

All collectors in attendance signed several 8 1/2 x 11 uncut 1968 SCFC (Sports Cards for Collectors) sheets. Good luck tracking down one of these in the wild! A full list of the names are below along with where they traveled to the convention from.

SIX of these men (that I know of) either owned a T206 Honus Wagner at the time or would shortly after the event. I’ve placed an asterisk next to their names. Bill Haber actually brought his Wagner to the convention. Also worth noting -among many other deals struck that day- a T206 “Magie” error changed hands from Dennis Graye to Bill Mastro.

  • Bill Haber* – Brooklyn, NY
  • Crawford Foxwell – Cambridge, MD
  • Bill Zekus – Elmsford, NY
  • Dave Zemsky – Bronx, NY
  • Nate Cohen – New York, NY
  • Tom Dischley – New York, NY
  • Dennis Graye – Detroit, MI
  • Mike Jaspersen – Rosemont, PA
  • Fred McKie* – Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Bruce Yeko – New York, NY
  • Irv Lerner* – Philadelphia, PA
  • Dan Dischley – Lake Ronkonkoma, NY
  • Mike Aronstein* – Yorktown Heights, NY
  • Bob Jaspersen – Rosemont, PA
  • Bill Mastro* – Bernardsville, NJ
  • Tom Collier* – Easton, MD
  • Bill Himmelman – Norwood, NJ
  • Jim MacAllister – Philadelphia, PA
  • Myron S. Aronstein – Mount Vernon, NY

With Dan Dischley and Bob Jaspersen attending, of course this convention received coverage in their hobby publications The Trader Speaks and Sport Fan respectively.

-Bob Jaspersen, publisher Sport Fan

See the young man sporting blue in the photos above? That’s Mike Jaspersen. Heres his “Stealth Extremely Short Print” card from 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter. “Mike attended his sports card show in 1970.” Yes, he did and we’ve got proof!

Following the 1970 convention at his home, Dad attended a similar gathering at Crawford Foxwell’s place in 1971, known as the Mid-Atlantic Sports Collectors Convention. I call this his “super-villain” shot because, well, you be the judge.

Dad then attended the 1972 Midwest Sports Collectors Convention in Detroit and also founded TCMA with Tom Collier that year. In 1973 he went on to help plan and host the ASCCA (American Sports Card Collectors Association) shows in NYC with Bruce Yeko and brothers Bob and Paul Gallagher.

The first of many ASCCA shows was held May, 25-27 1973 at the District 65 Center at 13 Astor Place in Manhattan. Great images from this event were posted by Sports Collectors Daily in 2018 and can be found here. It was also chronicled by Keith Olbermann in the very first issue of Sports Collectors Digest, dated October 12, 1973. 6 of the 19 people at the March 15, 1970 convention are also depicted in the SCD photos below.

Fred McKie, Mike Aronstein & Frank Nagy at the 1972 Midwest Sports Collectors Convention.
Who doesn’t love free buttons? An ASCCA show staple.

Where the hobby will be 50 years from now is anyone’s guess. A LOT has happened since those 19 guys got together in 1970. What we do know right now is that the hobby is booming — let’s keep that up! Dad and I hope to see you all in Baltimore for #SABR50 this summer and Atlantic City for the National. Feel free to say hi and let’s talk hobby history. Cheers!

Special thanks to hobby historian David Kathman (trdcrdkid on Net54) for his valuable insight and for providing the scans above.

Burdick Award finalists

The Awards Subcommittee of the SABR Baseball Cards Research Committee is appreciative of the many nominations from membership. At this time we are pleased to announce the five finalists for our inaugural Jefferson Burdick Award for Contributions to the Hobby and particularly gratified to see that the process resulted in such a broad range of nominations.

The Award was not designed to honor the biggest or best collection or the person who made the most money through the hobby—not that either of those things would be disqualifying. Rather, it was simply created to recognize individuals who in any variety of ways have made the Hobby better for the rest of us.

Dr. Robert Fitts

Our first finalist is Robert Fitts. Dr. Fitts, our committee’s featured speaker at #SABR49, boasts an impressive resume of accomplishments and scholarship including the 2006 Sporting News-SABR Research Award, the 2012 Doug Pappas Award for best oral research, the 2013 Seymour Medal for Best Baseball Book of 2012, and the 2019 McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award.

He is best known in the Hobby for his unmatched expertise and research in the area of Japanese baseball cards. While this committee has primarily focused on U.S. card releases, Fitts’s expertise and enthusiasm for Japanese cards and the way they interact with the hobby in the U.S. expands our understanding of what cards can be. This is not just a US-centered thing and baseball is a worldwide game.

Bert Blyleven and Mike Noren

Our second finalist is Mike Noren, the artist behind Gummy Arts and Cecil Cooperstown. Mike’s whimsical baseball card creations are currently featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Shoebox Treasures” exhibit, and his set of 1919 White Sox strip cards were a crowd favorite at SABR’s Black Sox Scandal Centennial Symposium.

Mike’s cards have inspired many collectors to reconnect with the Hobby, and his daily posts to social media platforms have inspired numerous other baseball card artists. He references designs from the entire history of baseball cards and in so doing, transforms old designs into wholly new and modern creations. Meanwhile his pop-culture creations hint at the long history of collecting photos and cards and confirm how the concept of a Baseball Card™ transcends the sport.

Dr. James Beckett

Our third finalist, Dr. James Beckett, has a name nearly synonymous with the unprecedented growth of the Hobby in the 1980s and 1990s, though his continuing contributions to the Hobby span nearly half a century. In the tradition of our award’s namesake, Dr. Beckett has contributed to the identification and cataloging of numerous sets, and his publications such as the Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guide (with Dennis Eckes) and the Beckett Monthly brought both checklists and price guides to the mainstream of the Hobby.

For the generation of collectors who came of age in the 1980s, Beckett is their Burdick. It is impossible to imagine the hobby without him and his publications were not merely price guides but captured the zeitgeist of an entire collecting generation.

Keith Olbermann

Our fourth finalist is broadcasting legend Keith Olbermann, whose contributions to the Hobby began while he was still in high school as an editor for “Collectors Quarterly” and the writer for the card backs of the 1975 Sports Stars Publishing Company (SSPC) baseball set. He would go on to contribute photos to 1981 Donruss while amassing a world class collection of cards and memorabilia.

Keith has used his collection as reference material for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Hobby, which he frequently shares in articles and social media posts. Whenever we have a question about the Topps photo archive or who produced a set of cards, he is our resident expert. Keith was our committee’s featured speaker at #SABR47 and represents how baseball cards can turn someone into a baseball fan.

Mike Aronstein with son Andrew

Our last finalist and the winner of the 2020 Jefferson Burdick Award for Contributions to the Hobby is Michael Aronstein. Best known as the “MA” in TCMA, the company he co-founded with Tom (the “TC” half) Collier in 1972, Mike’s Hobby resume also includes:

  • Card show pioneer, having arranged and hosted (in his basement!) one of the very first “conventions” in 1970 and having gone on to co-organize the biannual American Sports Card Collectors Association shows in New York City;
  • Publisher of Collectors Quarterly magazine;
  • One of the Hobby’s first full-time dealers, providing collectors with alternatives to mainstream sets along with collecting supplies such as plastic sheets before they were widely available anywhere else;
  • Producer of hundreds of minor league team sets, including the “pre-rookie cards” of Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Wade Boggs, and re-launching the minor league card industry in the process;
  • Challenger of the Topps monopoly with his Sports Stars Publishing Company (SSPC) 660-card set consisting almost entirely of current players;
  • Exclusive distributor of the 1981 Donruss set (but we won’t hold that against him!);
  • Founder of Photo File, supplying the Hobby with high quality 8×10 photos to be signed by athletes.

More importantly, TCMA cards were touchstone for many, if not all, of us as the only cards we could find/afford of baseball legends. In a way that no book can touch, TCMA cards taught kids about baseball: who the legends were and why, what they looked like, etc. If Topps is the card of record representing which players were relevant for the current season, TCMA were the cards of history and how we learned about baseball itself.

We look forward to honoring Mike at our national convention, SABR 50, in Baltimore. We hope you’ll make plans to join us as we celebrate Mike’s lifetime of contributions to the Hobby. Over the next couple months we’ll share more information about this and other baseball card happenings planned for SABR 50.

My Favorite Commons

My parents come from large families. My mom is the second oldest of seven children and my dad the youngest of seven. Hordes of grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, aunts, uncles, and cousins made for wonderfully chaotic family parties and holidays in my youth. But it is with my mom’s younger sister Debbie that I share a unique bond.

As a kindergartner in 1978, Aunt Debbie took me to the Cubs’ home opener, my first ever baseball game. At five years old, I was generally aware of Cubs baseball and had watched ballgames on WGN; however, my parents were not particularly avid sports fans (we prefer to bond over pizza) and with three kids under six, a trip to Wrigley Field was not necessarily on their radar.

I wore my red coat with race cars on it. I held her hand as we navigated the crowd, climbing the winding ramps up to the bleachers. And just like so many others, my first view of the field was absolutely mind-blowing—it was impossibly green and vivid and huge—so unlike the dark, grainy broadcasts of the day. I had a hot chocolate and she bought me a Cubs helmet and the Cubs won the game on a walk-off home run by Larry Biittner in the ninth. I was hooked. It is my Aunt Debbie I thank for my lifelong love of baseball.

In the summer of 1979, Debbie and her good friend Judy spent their summer at Wrigley Field, taking in close to 30 games in the $2.00 bleachers (roughly $7.00 today and considerably less than that same ticket would cost you today). They would take the bus up Austin from Oak Park and transfer over to the Addison bus that would take them right to Wrigley Field’s doorstep. After grabbing a doughnut and coffee at Yum Yum Donuts, they would get in line for the (general admission) bleachers to enjoy the sunshine and cheer on her favorite, Cubs’ slugger Dave Kingman, in left field.

Over the years, she took me to several games, including a “Crosstown Classic” match-up at a time the White Sox and Cubs used to play an exhibition game or two against each other in the early 1980s and another home opener with her then-boyfriend, who later became my Uncle Dan. It is one game, however, that led to my obsession with baseball card collecting.

81 topps fernando

In 1981, Dodgers’ pitcher Fernando Valenzuela took the nation by storm with a hot start that included an 8-0 record after his first eight starts, with five shutouts and eight complete games. Perhaps you recall Fernandomania? When Aunt Debbie called to see if I was interested in going to the Cubs game with her on Saturday, June 6—in front row seats along the first base line—I was thrilled. When I later learned it was going to be a Valenzuela start, I was over the moon.

As Fernando warmed up in the visitor’s bullpen, we stood along the wall and watched. As much as I loved the Cubs at that point, seeing him in person was tantamount to witnessing Babe Ruth in the flesh. Valenzuela might be the greatest pitcher of all-time! When Aunt Debbie took me to the souvenir stand, my allegiance wavered, and I insisted on a Dodgers’ helmet. (Hey, I was eight, swept up in Fernandomania, and simply had not realized how silly it was to ever root for the Dodgers.)

I received some praise from a smattering of Dodgers fans as I proudly wore my new helmet. The game got off to a good start for Los Angeles, who knocked Cubs’ starter Bill Caudill of the game in the first. After the top of the second, the Dodgers led 4-0. In the bottom of the inning, Hector Cruz took Valenzuela deep for the Cubs’ first run.

The score remained 4-1 as the Cubs came to bat in the bottom of the fourth. Jerry Morales began with a triple off Valenzuela, Cruz walked, and Carlos Lezcano singled home Morales. Ken Reitz flew out and Jody Davis singled, scoring Cruz. Light-hitting infielder Mike Tyson hit a three-run bomb off Valenzuela. After a walk to Ivan DeJesus, Valenzuela was lifted in favor of Bobby Castillo. Steve Dillard flew out. Bill Buckner, my favorite player at the time, doubled to drive in DeJesus. Morales, batting for the second time in the inning, grounded out. The Cubs led 7-4. And Valenzuela was mortal. I was no longer interested in donning Dodger blue.

As I took the helmet off and placed it under my seat, Aunt Debbie asked me what was wrong. I expressed regret for my impulsive helmet purchase. She graciously offered to take me back to the souvenir stand to replace the helmet with a Cubs item. We went back to the stand and after looking over the items, I decided on the 1981 Topps team set. (Geez, I acted like a spoiled punk!)

1981 topps cards

Now back at our seats, I rifled through the cards looking for all the players I had seen so far in the game. Bill Buckner! Mike Tyson! Ivan DeJesus! While it seemed that only half of the starting lineup from that game was represented in the team set, there was something downright magical about looking down at a baseball card and then up at that player on the field. (It was probably telling that the only two All-Stars in the set—Kingman and Bruce Sutter—were no longer on the team.)

The Cubs won the game 11-5 and hung seven earned runs on Valenzuela, causing his ERA to swell from 1.90 to 2.45. Mike Tyson would never hit another Major League home run. Just a week after this game, the players went on strike. I was blissfully unaware of the labor strife or how awful the 1981 Cubs team was. I took those cards everywhere with me.

That Dodgers helmet was imposed on opponents in backyard Wiffle Ball games for years to come. I still have it, along with a good portion of the cards from that original team set. I have no idea whatever happened to my Cliff Johnson or George Riley cards from that set, but the ones I still have symbolize the formation of my baseball allegiances, represent the starting point for my love of baseball cards, and are a tangible reminder of the special bond I have with my Aunt Debbie.

Time flies. Debbie is now retired and has raised four children of her own. She remains a passionate fan and even got to throw out the first pitch before a Cubs game in 2004 (jealous). We had quite a time celebrating the Cubs’ championship over Thanksgiving dinner in 2016. And catching up recently about those games of the 1970s and 1980s has been a blast. Thanks Aunt Debbie for my favorite commons!

Announcing the Burdick Award

We take a break from our usual baseball card storytelling this week to announce a new award approved by the SABR Board of Directors and coming out of our very own Baseball Cards Research Committee. The Jefferson Burdick Award for Contributions to the Hobby will be handed out for the very first time at #SABR50, our national conference taking place from July 15-19, 2020, in Baltimore.

At this time it is our pleasure to announce that SABR’s inaugural recipient of this prestigious honor will be…drum roll please…up to you!

Award criteria

Yes, we are looking for YOU to nominate a worthy recipient who has made significant contributions to the hobby in such areas as–

  • Baseball card research/scholarship
  • Baseball card creation/production/innovation
  • Developing/maintaining resources (e.g., publications, websites, communities, events) for collectors
  • Increasing access, knowledge, or enjoyment

In short, we are looking for the individuals who have made baseball card collecting a better hobby for the rest of us.

award process

Have someone in mind? Here is what we’d like you to do.

  • No later than February 28, use the Contact form on this website to let us know your nominee(s) along with with a very brief description of their role or contributions. A few sentences is sufficient at this stage in the process.
  • Be available for follow-up in case more information is needed.

On our end, we (your committee co-chairs, Nick and Jason) will vet the nominees and hope to arrive at a short list of finalists. Once finalists are determined, we will work with nominees to turn each finalist nomination into a post here on the SABR Baseball Cards blog and then work with our Awards Subcommittee* to choose the award winner.

*Subject to availability, those committee members who contributed at least 12 posts to the SABR Baseball Cards blog in the preceding year.

Award rules

A couple quick notes before closing this post and putting the ball in your court:

  • Nominees should be living at the time of nomination (and we’ll hope for their sake still alive by SABR 50!)
  • You must be a SABR member to participate in the nomination process. If you are not yet a member, please join!
  • The nomination deadline is February 28, 2020.

MORE ABOUT the award’s namesake

Finally, for a wealth of great articles on Jefferson Burdick himself, head to the Burdick section of the “Old Baseball Cards” library.

My favorite common

Editor’s note: We normally reject any “Favorite Common” submission featuring a Hall of Famer, kindly of course, but when we saw the condition of the card…well…see for yourself! 🙂 Plus, it’s Pudge’s birthday!

I still have this damn card.

97 or 98 percent of it, at least. Some of it has disintegrated. God knows where that black mark in the lower right edge came from. If you hold it at a certain angle, the creases either look like lightning bolts or rivers on a map.

It’s the first Carlton Fisk card that came into my possession. The first of 2,000 or so (I really need to get an exact count) Carlton Fisk cards in my collection.

Carlton Fisk is my all-time favorite player. This card had something to do with that. Did anyone wear catcher’s gear with such authority? No. Nobody ever looked better with the chest protector and backwards helmet. Carlton Fisk was the best. Still is. Has a cool name. Wore number 72! Who the hell wore 72?

He was a star player on my favorite team. His cards had several lines of stats on the back. His career went back to the 1960s! I was fascinated by cards with many lines of stats. So many that they had to make the print smaller.

The 1983 White Sox are my all-time favorite team. Even if I don’t remember anything about the games of that season. But you see, that doesn’t matter.

I had a plush “Ribbie.” And a hat signed by “Roobarb” (and Rudy Law).

And a pin that says “Winnin’ Ugly.”

And White Sox Pizza Hut placemats (okay, those were from 1984).

And the 1983 White Sox Yearbook.

And a bunch of 1983 Topps* White Sox cards. My mom says I learned to read with these cards – at age three.

Including this 1983 Carlton Fisk All-Star #393.

I have at least 20 additional copies of this card (including the O-Pee Chee version). But I will never get rid of this card. If I were to send it in to PSA to get graded, they’d suspect me of pulling a prank (or laugh at me, or both), but there is no card in my collection with more nostalgic value.

*The greatest card set ever produced

My Favorite Common – A Fam-A-Lee Connection

The recent posts about Favorite Commons sparked my interest in contributing to this blog.

My favorite common is just about any card of Steve Nicosia in a Pirates uniform.

1980 Topps – Number 519

However, if I had to pick just one it would be his 1982 Fleer card pictured below.

1982 Fleer – Number 488

In this Spring Training shot, the photographer pressed the shutter button at just the right time to capture Steve blowing a bubble that covers the lower half of his face. Steve is also wearing the – I luv em – you hate em – black and yellow uniforms complete with the Pill Box ball cap.

In the 1973 amateur draft, Pittsburgh selected Steve in the first round and he went straight from North Miami Beach High School to A ball with the Charleston Pirates.

1979 was Steve’s official rookie year and he was a key member of the World Champs batting .288 primarily against left-handed pitchers in 70 regular season games while sharing the starting catcher duties with Ed Ott.

Steve started 4 games in the 1979 World Series. He was only 1 for 16 at the plate but made some key defensive plays and was masterful at calling pitches in Game 5. He was behind the plate for the last out of Game 7 and can be seen at the end of the game throwing some hay makers at a fan who tried to steal his face mask.

During his additional time with the Pirates (1980 -August of 1983) he platooned with Ott and then was a backup to Tony Pena who was brought up in 1981.

He was traded to the Giants late in the season in 1983 and played another year in San Francisco before finishing his career with the Expos and then the Blue Jays in 1985.

Being a diehard Pirates fan, a card of Steve in another uniform just doesn’t look right to me.

1985 Topps Traded – Number 87T

A Fam-A-Lee Connection

During Steve’s time at North Miami Beach High School my uncle was his baseball coach (my uncle was also a biology teacher). It was a nugget of information that stuck in my head from a conversation over a few beers with my uncle back in the late 1970’s.

In 2009 I was spectator at the Pirates Fantasy Camp in Bradenton, Florida and noticed that Steve was one of the alumni Pirates who was coaching and playing against the campers. I waited for the right moment and leaned over the fence and told him that my uncle, Sam Viviano, was his baseball coach in high school. He immediately smiled and asked me how my uncle was doing. He mentioned that he had not spoken to him in a long time. I told him that I would be back to tomorrow and put him in touch with my uncle on a cell phone call.

I arrived early the next day and got my uncle on the phone first and then called out to Steve. He came over and I handed the cell phone to him and told him my uncle was on the line. Steve shouted, “Coach Viv” and then proceeded to walk around the field for the next 20 minutes smiling as he conversed with my uncle.

I called my uncle back after the call and he told me how great it was to catch up with Steve and how surprised he was that I remembered that he coached Steve in high school.

Steve Nicosia owned Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton hitting .339 against him in 60 at bats. My uncle was Steve Carlton’s biology teacher in high school (my uncle was not the baseball coach at the time).

Topps 1973 – Number 300

My Favorite Common

On the heels of Nick’s suggestion, I thought I’d take a stab as well. If you’re one of the blog’s more avid readers you may recall I’ve already done two pieces on “Uncommon Commons,” the first on Ohtanian Texas League pioneer Dave Hoskins and the second on football player-artist Ernie Barnes. At present my cards of Hoskins reign supreme over the tens of thousands of commons in my collection, so much so that they get their own shelf in my memorabilia room.

Neither Hoskins nor Barnes will be the subject of this post, however. More in line with the spirit of the “Favorite Common” series, I’ll highlight a favorite common or two from my formative years as a collector, long before I had ever heard the names Dave Hoskins and Ernie Barnes.

Having come of age as a collector and fan in late-1970s Los Angeles, I went to bed each night with the transistor radio glued to my ear, faithfully tuned to the play calling and commentary of Vin Scully, Ross Porter, and Jerry Doggett on KABC 790. You’d be forgiven for not noticing from the outside, but inside Dodgerland there was a great chase afoot as dramatic and legacy defining as Mantle, Maris, or Aaron’s pursuit of Ruth.

The great Manuel Rafael Mota Geronimo (SABR bi0), whose full name was sometimes used by Scully out of reverence, was on the verge of becoming baseball’s all-time Pinch-Hit King! With every plate appearance came the question of whether he’d pull one hit closer to the immortal (or at least centuries old sounding) Smoky Burgess.

Many fans today know Scully’s famous call of Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series. From my memory, perhaps faulty but not wholly unreliable, that radio call was every Manny Mota at-bat in the year of our Lord 1979 as well as half the times Manny could have come up and didn’t.

So yes, your VCPs, Standard Catalogs, and Beckett Monthlies might regard Mr. Mota as a common, but I am here to correct the record. In Greek mythology some gods assumed common form, but this was 1979 Los Angeles, not 2000 B.C. Athens, and Mr. Mota’s assault on immortality made his 1978 and 1979 Topps cards anything but common in my collection.

Mota had entered the 1979 season with 132 pinch hits, a dozen short of the record. With roughly six months of baseball to play, barring whatever type of injuries befell pinch-hitters, Manny would need to average two hits per month to tie Burgess and of course just a hair over that to claim the crown for his own. Sure Ty Cobb once banged out 67 hits in a single month, but old Ty had the advantage of everyday play and competed against inferior talent. Let’s call it a wash, shall we?

Sure enough, Manny Mota began the season on perfect pace to match Burgess. Two hits in April followed by two hits in May. One one occasion each month, Mota drew a dreaded base on balls, the record chasing equivalent of a prom date with your cousin. Forgive us for we did not yet know walks would someday be hallowed above even RBIs among baseball savants, meaning at the time that the only response our amygdalas could produce was, “Pitch to the man, you bum!”

I don’t normally use this blog to shame anyone, but here are the bums in question. A pox on both your houses, Frank Riccelli and Mike Tomlin!

With two months of the season in the books, Mota’s average was a “Peachy” .364, but then came his dreaded June swoon and a slowing of Manny’s assault on Burgess. Only one hit in five at-bats prompted the question: Like Aaron in ’73, would Mota fall just short of the mark and be forced to carry its full burden into the off-season?

As it turns out, not a chance! Channeling Kobe’s final game, it seemed every time a Dodger hitter stepped to the plate in July it was Mota. I remember his plate appearances that month as 100 though the record books now tell me they numbered a mere dozen. Perhaps I’m counting all the times Scully wondered aloud whether Mota might be making his way to the bat rack.

“And look who’s coming up…”

Still, 12 at bats for a pinch-hitter is like a million for anyone else. Mota made the most of his trips to the plate, connecting for four hits and closing out the month with 141 pinch-hits. With two full months remaining, there was little doubt Mota would soon claim the crown.

Hinting at the role Fate had played in his career, Number 11 came to the plate 11 times in August. His first four times up resulted in three singles against only one out. He was now batting .375 on the season. More importantly, his career total for pinch-hits was now 144. The man was Ty Cobb meets Tie Burgess.

As was the way in ancient Sparta, there were now two kings. This we expected. What we didn’t expect was that the diarchy would drag on as long as it did.

As hot as August began, a rash of cool summer nights followed:

  • August 9: ground out
  • August 12: ground out
  • August 16: sacrifice bunt
  • August 20: ground ball double play
  • August 24: line out
  • August 25: fly out
  • August 28: strikeout

The wear of the season had caught up with Mota. While everyday hitters could match Manny’s hitless streak and barely blink an eye, they also cycle through seven plate appearances every two games. For Mota, the drought represented a full one eighth of the baseball season, which is quite an o-fer for a .375 hitter!

The Dodgers gave Mota the rest of the month off and didn’t call his number again until the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, at home against the Cubs. Leading off the bottom of the eighth inning on September 2, 1979, Manny Mota replaced Ken Brett in the Dodger lineup. On the mound for the visiting Cubs was card-in-every-pack northpaw Lynn McGlothen, who held a 1-2 count on Mota.

On the next pitch…history was made, or in the immortal words of Topps, “Basehit to Rightfield Does It!”

The king is dead. Long live the king! Let the history books (or at least the SABR Baseball Cards blog) show that this common was no common common but a common who one day ruled them all.

Epilogue

A couple years back I was staying with a friend in the Bay Area, and he brought out his old baseball cards. Seeing my reaction to his 1970 Manny Mota card, he was kind enough to give it to me. The front featured a beautiful image of Mota waiting his turn at bat, ready to deliver his trademark single to right. His gaze seemed affixed beyond the mound or batter’s box, almost heavenward, as if to let the baseball gods know, “Yeah, I got this.”

Flip the card over, however, and I’m actually thankful that I didn’t have it back in 1979.

“Considered by many to be the best #4 outfielder in the NL, Manny proved his value to the Dodgers in 1969 with timely hitting.”

As a kid who listened to Vin Scully more than his own parents and teachers, I saw Mota as a superstar. It had never once crossed my mind that Mota might have simply been the fourth best outfielder for a lot longer than most players, many of whom eventually became the third, second, or even first best. I was cheering a prize for bench warmers all those games, all the while thinking I was witnessing the toppling of the Bambino.

Who was Manny Mota then? Was he an immortal carving out his own slice of baseball’s record book or was he a glorified bench warmer? I prefer to remember him as the former, not just because it’s how I experienced him at the time but because such a portrait inspires me in my own life.

In so many parts of life, we are not the stars, the best, or even in the top three. We are the helpers, the ones who wait their turns, and the ones who much rejoice in small victories. We fail more than we succeed, and we don’t always know when our next opportunity will come, if at all.

We aren’t Hank Aaron or Mike Trout (unless one of them is reading this column…HOLY SMOKES!!!), and nobody will ever collect our baseball cards. Still from our benches there are glories and gratitude as we aspire humbly not to be heroes to millions but on a good day, to those around us, a Favorite Common.

Author’s note: Manny Mota fans and baseball fans in general might enjoy W.P. Kinsella’s short story, “The Night Manny Mota Tied the Record.” It’s in “The Essential W.P. Kinsella,” among other places.

My Favorite Common, Mor-a-les

My mother used to throw out my cards.

Trite, right? Here’s the twist: I let her. Every year, or maybe more sporadically than that, my mother would ask if I wanted my cards. I told her no. It’s crazy looking back at it.

That all ended for me at the close of 1971. What remained was a small stack, part of that year’s baseball set, and all of my football, basketball and hockey cards. I kept everything from that moment on.

As the ‘70’s wore on, and my local reputation was built on, or ruined by, my penchant for cards, friends would give me their collections as they grew out of them and I remained stuck. My 1971 baseball cards piled up, but, as they were not my originals and cared for as such, condition was a hodgepodge.

Rich Morales, #276 in the set, #1 in my heart, always stuck out as a reminder of the grief I suffered by not keeping my own cards and the joy I incurred by getting everyone else’s.

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What a wreck. If a card has anti-gloss, this is it. You can almost feel the texture by looking at it – rough, grainy, dirty, as if a card had driven over it multiple times. Creases, paper loss, a real PSA -7. The back is less gross, but not very nice.

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When I discovered a few years back that I was pretty close to finishing a 1971 set, I decided to complete it in somewhat consistent condition, somewhere between VG and EX. I got it done and am pretty pleased with it. All of a sudden, this Morales card was less comfortable in its surroundings. With some mixed feeling, I upgraded.

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In the past year I’ve completed my 1968-70 football sets. As I’ve done so, I’ve sold my crappy cards in bulk from those years. Weirdly, there’s a market for poor condition cards.

Those can go. In fact, so can my extra baseball cards of that era, and I’ve moved over 1,000 to a Facebook collector. Rich Morales is safe though. I’ll never get rid of him.

My Favorite Common

One of the most-rewarding things about being the co-chair of this committee is seeing people come out of the woodwork to not only join the community we have here but contribute to it. Every new voice on the blog is wonderful and Jason and I have thoroughly enjoyed our role in encouraging new posters.

Some of you come bursting out of the gate with fantastic posts already formed and polished. Others of you have felt the desire to post but have needed some assistance in coming up with a good topic or angle of approach. As I’ve watched new posters try to find their voice or figure out what to do after they’ve exhausted their opening salvo of posts it’s occurred to me that it might be nice to have essentially an internal blog bat-around where we each address the same topic as a way of introducing ourselves and our relationship to baseball cards.

This isn’t a capital-A Assignment. But if you’ve run out of post ideas and want something to write about or if you’ve been lurking here for years and haven’t figured out what you feel comfortable adding, here’s a free post idea that I hope we return to for many years.

Mark Armour started this committee off on the right foot so it’s only fitting that his My Favorite Common post provides the blueprint. Please write about your favorite common card. No stars. No Hall of Famers. No errors. No in-demand rookies. No cards where the primary interest is how much it’s worth. We all know what common cards are; what’s of interest to the committee is you. Why it’s your favorite. How it relates to your baseball fandom.

For example, I’ll select my 1985 Fleer Dave Dravecky card for this exercise. I got this card before I even became a baseball fan or attended my first game in September 1986. My friend gave it to me before soccer practice and, not having any pockets, I shoved it behind my shinguard to “keep it safe.”

When I got home, it lived in my desk drawer, semi-forgotten even after I started collecting cards. Then in 1987 two things happened. The first was that the Giants and Padres made a blockbuster trade where the Giants got Kevin Mitchell, Craig Lefferts, and Dravecky in exchange for Chris Brown, Keith Comstock, Mark Davis and Mark Grant. The second is that Eric Show hit Andre Dawson in the face.

I’m not sure what it says about me that the Show/Dawson incident is what made dig through my drawer but yeah I had remembered that I had a Padre pitcher and so I went digging. Instead I found that I now had a Giants card.

Over the 1987 season Dravecky was usually good and occasionally great with multiple shutouts including a gem in the playoffs. Then the next year they found cancer in his pitching arm. His comeback game in 1989 remains the single most exciting sporting event I’ve ever been to. There was an electricity in the crowd with every pitch that I’ve never felt since. Playoff and World Series games are intense but this was much more than that.

This card has remained a sentimental favorite ever since but it also represents a lot of things that I like about baseball cards in general. Cards with colorful borders that correspond to the team colors. Cards with simple but professional headshots that also offer a glimpse at the stadiums. And Dravecky himself is poised and confident while also offering a bit a smile.

I love the way the yellow border is actually the same color as the Padres yellow and the way it works perfectly with the brown pullover jersey. The colors in general work really well together here with the red plastic seats and green artificial turf offering just enough contrast to keep the card from looking too much like a Reeses Pieces advertisement. It’s just a good-looking basic card.

The background details though are what I like best since they’re emblematic of the state of the game when I fell in love with it. I never thought I’d miss multipurpose stadiums with their barely-filled outfield stands revealing row-upon-row of brightly-colored plastic seats but here we are. Those donuts weren’t great but you could always walk up to the ticket window and expect something to be available.