|Card front (blank back)|
Mr. Rommel (spelling error to the card) is known to baseball for a number of reasons. Most significantly, he developed the knuckleball pitch as an effective weapon and used it to win more than 20 games in a season multiple times. However, Ed's final MLB victory was assuredly the most unusual. Due to the scheduling oddities teams endured in the 20s, the A's took only two pitchers to a one-game series against the Indians. Rommel relieved Lew Krausse after a single inning in what became a barn-burner. Deadlocked at 15-15 after nine innings, the A's eventually won 18-17 in 18 innings. His (winning) numbers seem bizarre: 29 hits allowed (still a record), 17 innings pitched, and many, many runs. Perhaps his superhuman focus had wavered by then and the eyes wouldn't screw as tight as they used to.
Ed's facial expressions aside, the W515 strip cards look better than many other pen-and-ink issues. (That's called "damning with faint praise.") They use multiple colors, are fairly detailed, and actually resemble the player named.
UPDATE: Prior to 2011's opening day, Baseball-Reference.com highlighted two classic Opening Day Duels, one of which pitted Rommel and Walter Johnson against each other. Rommel eventually lost 1-0 in 15 innings, but clearly pitched an incredible game.
Value: You can find commons like Rommel for less than $10 and often as group lots. The set features a variation in size, dubbed imaginatively W515-1 and W515-2. This one's trimmed down to the colors, so I'm not sure which one it is. I'll roll my "expert collector" dice and say it's a W515-1. Who can say otherwise? ("PSA 0 trimmed?" No kidding!) Just in case I decide I really need the other one for my type collection, I'll bust out a ruler at this year's National and measure other Rommels until I find the 1/8" difference.
Fakes / reprints: Reprints probably exist, though this set's not valuable enough for them to be widespread.