by Rich Klein
There are so many stories, some funny, and some just interesting I like to share while writing these vignettes about my more than 30 years participation in the baseball card hobby. One of the those involves the T-206 Dick Egan, issued more than a century ago. Dick Egan was nothing special as a ball player…just a steady everyday player during the deadball era. I was reminded of him because of a recent thread on the popular Net54 Vintage Baseball Card Forum. So here is the rest of the story.
In the early part of the 21st century, a lawyer from Vermont named Tom Simon decided that SABR needed to have a committee which focused on the early part of the 20th century. Tom, with the help of some of his friends, basically created enough members and activity so the SABR deadball committee was accepted only a few months after the concept was created.
Now one of the aspects of any SABR committee is to have regional meetings whenever possible and Tom decided that since Hot Springs, Arkansas was the home to so many teams for spring training that with some help, the first Deadball committee meeting would be held there in early 2002. Since I lived within driving distance and I already knew what my general schedule was going to be at Beckett, I realized that would be my best chance to not only put me in a good frame of mind to price older cards for the Almanac but would be a nice get away. So, I signed up, reserved a hotel room and planned to drive to Hot Springs.
There is, of course, one little catch to my plan. About two weeks before the conference I received an email from Tom basically saying everyone must do a research presentation at the event. Well, considering my time to do any research presentation was minimal and two weeks hardly gave me a chance to do a proper job, I did what any good baseball card maven would do, create a discussion group about, you guessed it, T-206.
Fortunately, despite my total lack of preparation except to begin the discussion by saying: "OK, why were so many different sets produced circa 1910 but so few in the first decade and then so few after 1915 and how did that change collecting" etc.
The seven of us had a lively 30-40 minute discussion on the subject.
After we finished our presentations, the subject came up about the faces of the deadball players. The word 'hardscrabble' doesn't begin to describe some of them. We agreed that Dick Egan was probably the ugliest of them all. So, my job before the SABR Convention in Boston, which I did end up attending, was to find a Dick Egan T-206 card to burn as a sacrifice to make sure the deadball committee would continue to flourish.
Luck was with me as I was able to go to the Fort Washington show and pick up a few copies to bring to Boston. At the end of the committee meeting I went up and started describing what we were going to do and why. There were several gasps in the room but fear not... we ended up auctioning off those cards to raise seed money for various SABR projects. So no cards ending up being damaged in the production of this article.
However, for those of you who might want to know more about Dick Egan and his face of horrors. Just check out this photo from a recent eBay listing.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]