1909-11 T212 Obak Baseball Cards
Before major league baseball spread to the West Coast in 1958, the Pacific Coast League was the cream of the crop in the West. The league was considered to be almost as competitive as the American and National Leagues, since many of the players had the talent to make the big leagues but may not have had the desire to venture too far from home. In any case, the games drew large crowds and often had longer seasons than the big boys in the East. Due to those factors, many of the PCL-only cards get a lot more attention among collectors than many of the minor league sets issued in other parts of the country.
Perhaps the most widely collected PCL issues was the one that came inside packages of Obak cigarettes between 1909 and 1911. Unlike the T206 series, there were different sets issued each year. However, the T212 catalog number has been assigned to all Obak cards regardless of the year they were issued. Also, while considered to be a PCL issue, the 1910 and 1911 sets also included players from the four-team Northwestern League.
All three Obak sets feature the same front design. It has a brightly-colored lithograph of a player, surrounded by a white border. At the bottom are the player's last name and team city, and the league for the 1910 and '11 sets. Collectors can identify which year the card was issued by its back design. 1909 cards feature an Obak advertisement in Old English script. 1911 had the Obak wording in block type, along with a mention of either 150 or 175 subjects. Finally, the 1911 cards are printed in red ink, with a biography of the player and a few lines of statistics.
The different years offer several different methods of collecting. Some collect them by year, others by team. Some differentiate between the variations caused by the two different backs of the 1910 set. Some see the three sets as one larger set of 426 total cards and collect them without regard to the year they came out. Advanced collectors chase all the variations as well. In that sense, Obak cards can be as easy or as tough as the individual collector wants them to be.
Since around 40 percent of the players featured in the Obak sets went on to play in the major leagues, they sometimes attract the attention of more mainstream collectors. Among the specialized collectors are those who pick up items related to the 1919 Black Sox, since Chick Gandil and Buck Weaver both have Obak cards.
Key 1909-11 T212 Obak Baseball Cards:
1909-11 T212 Obak Baseball Card Checklist
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