This isn’t a post about the most valuable cards, the rookie cards, or the rarest cards of baseball Hall of Famers. It’s entirely about which card of each player looks the coolest. Sometimes it will be about the photo; sometimes it will be about the card design; sometimes it will be about that je ne sais quoi.
We’ll take this tour of Cardboard Cooperstown alphabetically in what will probably be about a dozen installments. This fourth leg of our tour will take us from Mickey Cochrane to Big Ed Delahanty. (Click here for the start of the series.)
Mickey Cochrane – 1935 Detroit Free Press
The smile, the detail on the hands, and the color are what did it for me on this one. For a player with so many cards that look alike, this one stands out.
Eddie Collins – 1910 Red Border Notebooks
Any time you spent browsing the Eddie Collins gallery at Trading Card Database would be time very well spent. He has several beautiful cards, and I was torn between this one and at least three others. If it hasn’t been clear through the earlier installments of this series, I’m a sucker for artistic backgrounds, so this one wins the day.
Jimmy Collins – 1911 T205 Gold Border
Here is a player whose numbers prompt some shoulder shrugs when assessing Hall worthiness. At the same time, you will find him as THE third baseman in the 1951 Topps Connie Mack’s All-Stars set, selected over more ballyhooed hot corner watchmen such as Pie Traynor and Home Run Baker. Purists will note Collins was a non-playing manager by the time this card came out. However, he has a bat in his hand and still very much looks like he could rake the 82 mph fastballs of the day.
Earle Combs – 1933 Goudey
Much like his near namesake Earl Averill, Combs is a player whose cardboard is largely uninspiring. In a curious case of Hall of Famer mistaken identity, I’ll note that Goudey and National Chicle (Diamond Stars) got their Earl and Earle cards mixed up. This Goudey card of course should say Earle, which it does on the back, while Averill’s 1934-36 Diamond Stars card uses Earle where it should be Earl.
Charlie Comiskey – 1887 Allen & Ginter World’s Champions
Take your pick between “I still call it Comiskey” and “I still call it the Sears Tower” for the line you’ll hear most from Chicagoans over 40. As maligned as Comiskey was for his part in the Black Sox Scandal, perhaps it’s only just that his name continues to be synonymous with the good old days of heading to the ballpark and rooting on the Sox. Here his Allen & Ginter card reminds us that even this longtime owner was young once, even if it was almost 150 years ago!
Jocko Conlan – 1955 Bowman
Another ump, another 1955 Bowman. If only Lon Warneke would make the Hall someday!
Tommy Connolly – 2008-11 Monarch Corona Color TV Series
Aside from a 1922 Zeenut that I couldn’t locate any pictures of, here is a man with very little true vintage. If you’re not familiar with it, this Monarch Corona set is essentially a custom extension of 1955 Bowman, filling in numerous missing stars such as Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, and Sandy Koufax.
Roger Connor – 1887 Buchner Gold Coin
Here is one of the two Connor poses in this early set, and I’d wager that only a small fraction of young fans today would even recognize the gloveless man in the picture as a baseball player, much less a Hall of Famer. Though I’m only showing card fronts in this series, I will say that this card scored extra points for the description on the back: “The leading base-ball players, police inspectors and captains, jockeys, actors & chiefs of the fire department.”
Andy Cooper – 1923-24 Billiken Cigars
Yes, our product causes cancer, but if it weren’t for us, good luck finding any cards of this great Negro Leagues pitcher. We’ll call it a wash!
Stan Coveleski – 1922 W501
Here is yet another so-so selection that mainly got here by lack of competition. I don’t want to single out Coveleski, but I’ll note here, in light of the recent Harold Baines backlash, that the Hall of Fame is full of guys who aren’t exactly Willie Mays. As I make my way through the alphabet, Baines seems more the rule than the exception.
Bobby Cox – 1974-75 Venezuelan Winter League Stickers
Sorry, Braves fans. Your guy definitely deserved a Braves card. But holy smokes, how was I supposed to resist this Roberto Cox card with the 1968 Topps design?
Sam Crawford – 1911 Turkey Red Cabinets
This whole set is a work of art. I have a bad feeling the over-under on my needing to add a Turkey Red to my PC is somewhere around the ellemenopee mark in this series.
Joe Cronin – 1941 Play Ball
I can never resist the comic book colors of sets like this one, and we’ll give the card extra points for reminding us that “Joe” was just Cronin’s nickname.
Candy Cummings – 1977-81 Bob Parker Hall of Fame
If not for Bob Parker and Dick Perez, the pickings would be slim for a number of these early pioneers. Luckily I’m a big Bob Parker fan.
Kiki Cuyler – 1936 National Chicle Pastels
I was right about to go with Cuyler’s 1933 DeLong card until I ran across this beauty. Though it might just be Florida or Arkansas, it’s easy to look at the backdrop and picture Cuba or Tahiti.
Ray Dandridge – 1945 Caramelo Deportivo Cuban League
Considered by many the greatest Negro Leagues third baseman of all-time, Dandridge was already in the tail end of his career when he was signed to a contract with the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. Though he was the MVP of the league in 1949, he was already 36 years old and never given a shot at the Major League level.
George Davis – 1909-11 T206
The background carries the day once again and not just for the color. There are two other features here that warrant a closer look.
First off, doesn’t it look like the field is on fire? And second, yes, I know I’m imagining things, but this is downright spooky. That’s no grassy knoll at the base of the flames. Admit it. That’s Babe Freaking Ruth. Sorry, Baltimore News collectors. This is the true Ruth pre-rookie! I know some of you are scratching your heads, but the rest of us will never be able to un-see it!
Leon Day – 1991 Ron Lewis Negro Leagues Postcards
Ron Lewis, if you’re still around, congratulations! It would be very hard to find a better piece of baseball art than this one. Sheer perfection. (And before you complain about the oversized bottom border, each card was specially designed that way for the player’s autograph.) Here’s a link to the whole set.
Andre Dawson – 1981 Topps
While I don’t get excited at all about the “green tint” variations from the 1961 Topps set, this 1981 Topps extraterrestrial green glow card of the Hawk is another matter entirely. Add the powder blue Expos uni, and we have an unbeatable card.
Dizzy Dean – 1933 Goudey
If you have a vintage Dizzy Dean card, good chance it uses this pose…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Sure enough you’ll also find this exact pose on Dean’s 1934 Goudey, 1934 Butterfinger, 1935 Goudey, and 1935-36 Diamond Matchbook.
Ed Delahanty – 1895 Mayo Cut Plug
Okay, ready for another one you can’t un-see? Okay, no doubt Big Ed’s haircut is atrocious by modern standards. But let’s take a closer look.
The locks to the left of the part, that’s a capital E. And the the locks to the right? A capital D of course. Keep in mind Ed was one of five baseball playing brothers. How else would you tell them apart if not having them wear their names as their hair-dos!
BONUS: Dave Concepcion – 1970 Ovenca Venezuelan
In response to several requests to include cards of “should be in the Hall,” here’s the guy for this slice of the alphabet!
Admittedly there are more visually appealing cards of Concepcion than this one, but a Venezuelan card for the Venezuelan shortstop won the day. I’m not a guy that obsesses on the numbers, so without even looking at WAR, JAWS, MOONRAKER, or anything else, I see Concepcion on par with Pee Wee and the Scooter: all-star shortstops on monster teams, year after year after year.
Click here for the fifth installment of this series, which will look at the best cards of Hall of Famers from Dickey to Gehrig.