Wednesday, July 2, 2008

1923 W515 Baseball #5, Ed Rommell

The silent, corkscrewed face of Ed Rommel shows such determination, I have to wonder--is that a person? A statue? The essence of focus, narrowing all visual cues to only the strike zone and the catcher's signals? He even ignores whatever's going on behind him, algae bloom or burning bush. (God's calling, Ed! Just turn around!)

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, 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.


John R said...


I googled Ed Rommel looking for memorabilia for him...

I assum you have this card. Any interest in parting with it? Can you tell me where to get one (or more).

Matthew Glidden said...

Hi John, I'm headed to the annual national show at the end of this month. If another one turns up there, I'll do my best to update this entry with the details.

Devon's 1st Cards said...

Did someone color that card years after 1923? Weren't the A's solely blue/white & black/gray until the early 1960's? I'd be blown away if a card company in '23 produced a card using the modern colors for the team. (The A's did use some red during their time in KC, but I don't think they did before that)

Matthew Glidden said...

All of the W515 cards include coloring similar to this one, where the printers added various yellows, blues, and reds to an otherwise hand-drawn, black-and-white card. This Google image search returns a bunch of others from the same set for comparison.