Hey! I’m back with another Sports Cards Card highlight! I know it’s been a minute since my last card highlight blog, which covered Bronko Nagurski’s 1935 National Chicle card. If you haven’t read that yet, I think you’ll like it, especially if you like vintage football cards. This time, I thought it would be cool to return to the baseball diamond and highlight what is considered to be one of the oldest, rarest, and most valuable baseball cards out there - Eddie Plank’s 1909-1911 T206
Just like last time, we’ll get into a little background history on the player and then talk about the card itself and what makes it so rare for so many collectors today!
Eddie Plank (aka Gettysburg Eddie) was a pitcher in the MLB (AL) from 1901 - 1917. In that time, he won 3 World Series Championships, all of them with the former Philadelphia Athletics. Plank spent most of his professional career with the Athletics, making his debut in 1901 and finally leaving the team in 1914. Plank would retire from the game for good in 1917 after spending his last three seasons in St. Louis. Plank was known for being a left-handed pitcher and would actually be the first left-hander to win 300 games, a milestone for a pitcher of his style.
The Athletics actually appeared in five World Series during Plank’s time on the team, but would only be victorious in three of them, which is quite impressive nonetheless. Over the course of his pitching career, Eddie Plank would throw an impressive 2,246 strikeouts and achieve a 326–194 win/loss record. After finally retiring from baseball in 1917, Plank would return to his hometown of Gettysburg, PA (hence the nickname Gettysburg Eddie) and go on to live nine more years (1926) until he reached the age of 50. In 1946, 20 years after his death, Eddie Plank was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame.
The card is known as the T206, which dates back to 1909 when Plank and the A’s were both their prime. In fact, the card was distributed from 1909 until 1911 when the team was appearing in the World Series. Now, as I mentioned before somewhere in another sports card post, many of the baseball cards produced back then were made by the American Tobacco Company (ATC), and that includes this Eddie Plank card. In fact, there were some big-name cards featured in what’s known as the T206 set. That set featured soon-to-be legends like Eddie Plank and another heavy hitter named Honus Wagner, who I’m hoping to have featured in this series down the line.
Plank’s card is considered to be the second most desirable card in the T206 set, next to Honus Wagner. However, there are some (myself included) who see the two cards as neck and neck in terms of rarity, but because of the...controversy, so to speak, behind its printing.
First off, Eddie Plank was actually against the usage of tobacco and demanded that his image was erased from the card entirely because it promoted tobacco. Again, ATC was one of the biggest makers of baseball cards at the time, and for someone to not be pro-tobacco in those days was quite rare, especially if they were an athlete. Controversy often leads to rarity when it comes to sports cards and that’s probably one of the reasons why this card has become so valuable, but it’s not the only reason.
As I’ve also pointed out in previous posts, cards that have suffered some kind of misprint or...flaw, for lack of a better term, are worth even more to collectors. Why? Because once those ‘flaws’ are recognized, they are immediately pulled from circulation and reprinted properly. And that’s what happened with Eddie Plank’s T206 card when it first came out.
As the story goes, the card suffered from what’s called a “poor printing plate” that led to the cards being destroyed because they weren’t able to pass quality control. Many people also noticed that the image on the card wasn’t perfectly aligned/centered. In fact, the centering was so off that it actually interfered with the text that was printed along the bottom edge.
It’s uncertain exactly why this card has been deemed so rare, but those are just a couple of theories that are floating around. What I can say, is that there’s estimated to be about 75 or so of these Eddie Plank cards from the original T206 series floating around today. In fact, one sold for $700,000 back in 2012. And that card was graded at NM 7 by PSA. So, even a near-mint version of this card sold for an amazingly high price. Just imagine if it was graded at MT 9 or higher. If those cards even exist and certain people have them, then those people are sitting on a fortune...literally.
Let me know your thoughts on this card and if you happen to have one please give me your address and daily schedule. JUST KIDDING! Seriously, I would like to hear your thoughts on this card and maybe some others that you think should be highlighted in this series. I’ve got some other great ones on deck, so to speak, but I can always use a few pointers here and there.
Until we meet again,
Vince The Prince