1910-11 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. The M116 cards were a way to help boost circulation of a sports-related newspaper. In 1910, there was some spirited competition between The Sporting News and Sporting Life, and baseball coverage was an especially contentious part of that, leading to the inclusion of 1910-11 M116 Sporting Life Baseball cards.
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 1910-11 M116 Sporting Life Baseball cards were available through the paper in an envelope with a printed series checklist. The promotion lasted for 24 weeks, featuring a total of 288 different cards. However, there are several variations, which pushes the total number to around 400 cards.
Most cards feature major league players, but minor leaguers were added in later series as the publication began running out of players to showcase. Cards that were included in the final six weeks' worth of series (the waning weeks of the baseball season) are tougher to find than the rest.
Based on Carl Horner's famed photographic portraits, the 1910-11 M116 Sporting Life Baseball 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 at approximately 1-1/2" by 2-3/4".
There are several variations to be found within 1910-11 M116 Sporting Life Baseball. A few players in the set, including Amby McConnell, Johnny Bates 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, many cards are found with standard pastel-colored backgrounds or more scarce blue backgrounds. Both versions can be seen above for Christy Mathewson. Lastly, the backs carry one of three different advertisements for Sporting Life, adding to the master set totals. The three available backs are shown below.
As for the success of the promotion, The Sporting News continued for decades as a respected publication, but the paper shuttered its doors by the time the U.S. entered World War I.
M116 Sporting Life Doc Crandall - New York Giants
M116 Sporting Life Lena Blackburn (Blackburne) - Chicago White Sox
M116 Sporting Life Oscar Stanage - Detroit Tigers
M116 Sporting Life Jack Barry - Philadelphia AL
Key 1910-11 M116 Sporting Life Baseball Cards
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1910-11 M116 Sporting Life Baseball Set Checklist
Base Set Checklist
Leon Red Ames
Bill Bert Graham
Chief Owen Wilson