Wednesday, January 9, 2013

1916 D329 Weil Baking Co. Baseball #5, Leon "Red" Ames

What pre-war collectors know as "Weil Baking" is one of many back variations on Felix Mendelssohn's own 200-player, black-and-white set printed a century ago. I looked at some of its origin and checklist for a M101-4 set profile and OldCardboard tracks all known backs in a gallery, both of which bedevil completist collectors. A "master set" of cards derived from the original totals well over 1000, with some extremely expensive players and hard-to-find backs.

That might be Ames demonstrating his overhand curve, a pitch so hard to hit and catch that Red still holds the MLB record with 30 wild pitches in 1905, the same year he set a career-high with 22 wins. (The Sporting News could've picked a more recent photo than this Giants uniform, as Ames was three years removed from New York by 1916.)

As the card back implies, people used "Hall of Fame" colloquially for decades prior to Cooperstown's opening in 1939 and then, as now, who "belonged" in baseball's HOF included a measure of subjectivity. Red won 183 games and one World Series (also 1905) over a 17-year MLB career (career stats), short of Cooperstown quality today. Contemporary fans and writers considered him good, if unlucky in close games.

Value: This Weil Baking #5 sold for $167 as part of a 5-card lot in late 2012.

Fakes / reprints: Reprints from Mendelssohn-derived sets abound in the market, especially superstars like Joe Jackson and Babe Ruth. Fakes prove hard to distinguish for modern collectors; look for white stock that's slightly thinner than modern cards with a yellowy gloss on the front. When in doubt, buy from dealers who specialize in pre-war and don't spend a bundle just for a type card.


Brandon said...

Cool stuff here. I don't think I have seen a card from this set before. Judging by his hand position on the card Ames probably didn't throw a curve. If be had his wrist would be rotated with his thumb turned outward.
Great blog here. Been following for a couple of weeks now.

Matthew Glidden said...

Thanks, and nice catch on the hand position. Makes me wonder how many pitches a modern set displays, if you flip through and check pitching motions...