M116 Sporting Life Baseball Cards
Over the years, a lot of baseball card sets have been produced as promotional items meant to spur sales of other products. These cards were a way to help boost circulation of a sports-related newspaper. In 1911, there was some spirited competition between The Sporting News and Sporting Life, and baseball coverage was an especially contentious part of that.
As a way of getting readers to check out their paper, Sporting Life included advertisements throughout the season for a redemption program. Each week, 12 new cards were available through the paper. The promotion lasted for 24 weeks, with a total of 288 different cards. However, there were some variations, which brought the total number to 310 cards. Most featured major league players, but nine minor leaguers were added in later series as the publication began running out of players to feature.
Card fronts are similar to many sets of the era, having a photo of a player surrounded by a white border and a last name, team city and league listed in the bottom margin. Though they look similar to T206 cards and sometimes feature the same pictures, they have a more subdued color and a different text font, including lower-case letters. They are also slightly taller than most tobacco issues. The backs carry one of three different advertisements for Sporting Life.
There are several variations to be found. Two players in the set, Amby McConnell and George McQuinlan, had new cards issued late in the season to reflect that they'd been traded to new teams. Jimmy Walsh can be found with either a gray or white background. Also, several cards are found with standard pastel-colored backgrounds or more scarce blue backgrounds. Cards that were included in the final six weeks' worth of series (the waning weeks of the baseball season) are tougher than the rest.
As for the success of the promotion - The Sporting News continued for decades as a respected publication, but Sporting Life shuttered its doors by the time the U.S. entered World War I.
Key M116 Sporting Life Baseball Cards:
1911 M116 Sport Life Bill Bradley PSA 5 (0966)
1911 M116 Sport Life Ty Cobb PSA 2 (0471)
1911 M116 Sport Life Charley O'Leary PSA 6 (6446)
1911 M116 Sport Life Jack Rowan PSA 5 (0970)
M116 Sporting Life Baseball Card Checklist
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