It’s not like they’re piled high at your local card shop, but compared to the 1914 issue, the 1915 Cracker Jack baseball cards are a piece of cake. Unlike the debut issue when the cards were only available inside sticky boxes of candied popcorn and peanuts, the the ’15s could be had by sending in for what amounted to proofs of purchase. You had to eat a lot of it, but sending in for a set was something a lot of kids (and presumably adults) did.
Today, the cards from both sets are extremely popular but it’s that second year issue that average collectors and newcomers often gravitate to because of availability and cost.
Here’s a list of five cool cards from the 1915 Cracker Jack set that can be purchased for less than some current issue boxes as long as your condition expectations are within reason.
1) Fred Merkle
He was a very good player who just happened to make one bad move during an important game (think Bill Buckner). Merkle’s career put him in the middle of some incredible games and the lasting hubbub surrounding ‘Merkle’s Blunder’ is a fascinating story. He stands with his arms folded on this card, as if the publicity after he failed to touch second base in September 1908 had made him guarded.
Like most vintage cards, Merkle’s 1915 Cracker Jack has jumped in price over the last few years but for a few hundred dollars and some patience, you should be able to land a lower grade copy.
By the way, did you know his real name is actually Carl Frederick Rudolph Merkle?
2. Chief Meyers
He was right in the middle of the action during the deadball era, playing in some of the most important games of the era. Chief (real name John) was the battery mate for Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson and the duo helped lead John McGraw’s New York Giants to three straight National League pennants. Meyers played in four World Series before his long career was over.
He came from the Cahuilla Indian culture of California, went to college at Dartmouth and was a good-natured chap despite dealing with racism during his career. Meyers lived to the age of 90 and was interviewed for Lawrence Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times late life.
3. Fred Clarke
If you don’t know much about Fred Clarke, you should start learning. Clarke was a great hitter, a Pete Rose-like competitor and a great manager—sometimes all at once. He had over 2,600 hits, batted .312 for his career, won four National League pennants including three in a row and served as the Pittsburgh Pirates player-manager.
The Hall of Famer was an Iowa farm boy who became one of the most well-known baseball figures in the first quarter of the 20th century.
4. Connie Mack
His largely forgettable playing career was spent entirely in the 19th century but Connie Mack was still managing (though not very well) in 1950 at age 88. Mack had already captured three World Series championships with the Philadelphia A’s by the time his 1915 Cracker Jack card was issued (he’d win two more).
Mack has 19th century cards as a player and to be honest, most all of his cards are a little underrated considering his status in the game.
5. Hal Chase
As honest and forthright as Connie Mack was, Hal Chase was seldom above bending the rules, breaking them or taking a little cash in return for doing something he shouldn’t. Still, he was a handsome dude who was enormously popular and talented. A California guy, Chase was one of the first players who starred on both coasts during his pro career. Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson thought he was the best first baseman they’d ever seen.
He’s not in the Hall of Fame but in 1981, baseball historians named Chase as one of the greatest 100 players in history.
You can check out graded 1915 Cracker Jack cards on eBay here.