A funny thing happened as I was about to embark on a special level of spreadsheet hell reserved only for the most massochistic of baseball writers (and the guys too cheap to pay for Baseball Reference premium access).

Let me start here. When I was in high school, several years before ESPN took over the TV sports landscape, our local Channel 5 sports guy was THE guy for bringing us sports stories and highlights with humor, excitement, and sizzle. I’d go so far as to say that he became the prototype that SportsCenter anchors would be modeled after for decades to come.

What I did not know at the time was this man was a massive baseball card collector and even the camera and typewriter behind the cult classic SSPC baseball sets of the mid-1970s. (And no, Don Sutton was not having a good day!)

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By now you may have guessed I’m talking about all-time great sportscaster, news man, and baseball card collector extraordinaire, the only and only Keith Theodore Olbermann.

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So here I was, super excited to have pushed out Part 2 and psyching myself up for the massive research it would take for the Part 3 I had planned, when a very unexpected thing took place on Twitter–

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Dude just went Vince Carter on my Frederic Weis of a theory, but I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather be posterized by, particularly when it comes to cardboard knowledge. What I really loved was the quick follow-up, which proved I’m not the only guy thinking about baseball cards as I rush off to work!

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Now I know the man’s reputation in the card world to have zero doubt about any of this, but Keith’s a true journalist in the Edward R. Murrow fashion, so of course he brought receipts…or shall I say PROOF!

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The Twitter crop doesn’t do justice to Keith’s cards, so let’s show the same pics again in their full glory.

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And Keith followed up the photos with some further commentary on the set–all words in italics came from Keith. The other text is from me.

“The 5th [KO later corrected his statement to 6th] Series of Goudey Big League teems with cards that were renumbered – and slight changes were made to the fronts – after the proofs were made. I think there are 8 in total. Here are a few.

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“Somewhere along the line the decision was made to double print a Ruth instead of publishing a #106. Might’ve been inadvertent but the fact that the government made Goudey print a card and send it free to anybody who complained implies that was no clerical error ;-)”

I loved this take from Keith. His skepticism over the omission being a conveniently self-serving accident reminds me of his coverage of the George W. Bush presidency on MSNBC’s Countdown.

So there you have it! One of the world’s greatest card collectors just dunked on my week of work, but in so doing has showed us some of the most incredible cards in the hobby. Can you even imagine having that proof card 106 of Leo the Lip? Holy shit! I know this is a family blog, but that’s all I can say.

Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit.

Remaining questions

I am still in awe that Mr. Keith Olbermann chimed in on my work, even if it was to declare it rubbish. I think we can say with certainty that he has solved the mystery of card 106. That said, there are a few questions that still remain, at least barring some new revelations from Keith.

  1. Given that Leo Durocher was already on Sheet 6 as card 147, does his proof card 106 mean he was originally on that sheet twice before the Ruth DP took one of the slots? (I’m guessing no.)
  2. Is there any significance to the omission of card 142 on Sheet 6, since it still seems most logical that the card numbers would have been 142-165?
  3. Perhaps it’s no longer a relevant question, but assuming the 106 Durocher had been released, eliminating the need for a future Lajoie card, does that mean the set would have had two different Durocher cards or would some other subject have appeared on Durocher’s card 147? (Gabby Street, anyone?)
  4. As incredible as the Ruth 144 card was, what drove Goudey to put THREE Ruths on Sheet 6? Presumably, more Ruth cards meant more money. However, it seems even then Goudey would have gone for more balance than a Ruth release schedule by sheet of  0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 3, 1, 0, 0, and 0.

Damn, though. I am still in utter awe. Here I am, a largely anonymous blogger outside Chicago who owns a total of two cards (Lefty O’Doul, Hack Wilson) from this amazing set, and I was just visited by the great Keith Olbermann, cards and all. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit.