One of the joys of collecting baseball cards is learning about the game's players. However, most sets focus mainly on current stars. But what about the past, particularly when it comes to non-legends and forgotten stars?
There are a handful of cheap baseball card sets that offer a hobby-sized glimpse into the past. These sets not only offer lots of pictures, but lots to read and learn from. While we nearly all love collecting cards of Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb, these sets go much deeper.
Better still, they cost less than a single, off-condition 1960s Mickey Mantle card.
From 1991 to 1995, Megacards produced a massive collection of more than 1,400 cards. All feature the black and white photography of Charles Martin Conlon. A century ago, he was the game's most prolific photographer. Over the course of his career, Conlon took portraits of thousands of players.
1991 Conlon Collection Baseball kicked off a five-year run with 330 cards. Card fronts have a sharp black and white photo with a thick black border. It's a simple design, but one that draws attention to the photos.
Card backs have stats and extensive write-ups. While there are plenty of big names in 1991 Conlon Collection, it's also a great place to start find out about the Morton Coopers and Walter Bipps of the past. Not only are Conlon's photos fantastic, but flipping through a binder with this set is much faster than getting lost on Wikipedia.
1991 Conlon Collection Baseball sets and boxes can be found for under $20. A little more costly is a factory set packaged with a Bob Feller autograph.
The 1992 follow-up is just as cheap. However, in 1993 prices start to rise. The 1994 and 1995 Conlon Collection sets are more expensive.
In 1993 and 1994, the Ted Williams Card Company made a pair of memorable sets that focused mainly on the past. They did a solid job of bringing the past to the present, including several insert sets and different printing technologies. They even had POGs.
Much of the debut 1993 Ted Williams Card Company set is dedicated to the Hall of Fame types that are common. What makes the set stand out from a historical perspective is the inclusion of Negro League All-American Girls Professional Baseball League players. These are two of the hobby's most overlooked areas. It's particularly nice to see them both in the same set, even if they take up only a small part of the checklist.
1993 Ted Williams Company sets sell for under $20. Unopened boxes can be found for about $30. Not bad considering there's a chance at landing a Ted Williams or Juan Gonzalez autograph.
Is it a baseball card set or an entertainment card set? Both.
1988 Pacific Eight Men Out mixes scenes and characters from the John Sayles movie with the film's historical background. For those who haven't seen it, the movie is about the 1919 Black Sox Scandal where eight Chicago players were banned from baseball for throwing the World Series. Among those banned: "Shoeless"Joe Jackson.
Pacific does a good job of outlining the scandal. The non-movie cards use photos of the players, not the actors.
1988 Pacific Eight Men Out is significant for a couple of reasons. It's one of the only baseball card sets with "Shoeless" Joe Jackson that is licensed by Major League Baseball. For pop culture nuts, the set also has the first pack-inserted cards of Charlie Sheen and John Cusack. In particular, the Sheen cards move well on the secondary market, particularly when graded.
The set can be purchased by the box or as a factory set. Both are less than $20.
Related Topics: Baseball Cards: Guides