The T207 set is one of my personal favorites. Known for its drab look compared to the more colorful tobacco card sets out there, it is one of the more distinctive pre-war T-Card issues.
Many stars are missing from this set, including the likes of Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and others. Still, despite the lack of big names, some of the cards in it are a little underrated by those not too familiar with the set. Here’s a look at five of them.
Carey is among the lesser known Hall of Famers. Playing primarily for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was one of the early great base stealers in the sport. Carey led the league in stolen bases an astonishing ten times and also twice led the league in triples.
The reason his T207 card is an important one is because it is widely considered to be his rookie card. Carey does appear in the T332 Helmar Stamps set (which was produced a year earlier) but the T207 is often viewed as his first real baseball card. Carey’s card is also somewhat of a bargain as it starts around $125 for a decent copy.
Marsans was one of the first Cuban players in the major leagues. His career numbers (.269 batting average, two home runs, 612 hits) don’t immediately scream superstar. But he was viewed as an excellent player and was later among one of the first ten men to be inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame.
After a contract dispute and a short stint in the Federal League, Marsans returned to the majors, playing a few seasons with the St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees, before finishing his major league career at the age of 30 in 1918. He would later play in the Negro Leagues and also serve as a player/manager in the minors. According to SABR, he was the first Latin American manager in the minor leagues. Despite an exciting career, Marsans’ card is often overlooked and relatively cheap, starting around $100.
Almeida was another heralded Cuban player, though his career in the majors wasn’t nearly as long as that of Marsans. Over three seasons, Almeida batted a respectable .270 with the Cincinnati Reds. After his major league career ended following the 1913 season, Almeida would play a few more years in the minors and also in Cuba, where his career began as a teenager.
Like Marsans, his card is a special one as he was also a trailblazer as one of the first Cuban players in the majors. And like Marsans, he was also inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame as part of their inaugural class. His card is a bit tougher to find as it is in the rarer Broadleaf/Cycle subset of T207 cards. Because of that, it generally starts around $150 but the few that are offered often sell for more.
Barry’s card sticks out for a few reasons. First, and most importantly, he was a heck of a player. While not an offensive guru by any means, Barry was an excellent shortstop in the field, ranking in the top four in fielding percentage in each of his first six seasons as a full-time major leaguer. Part of Connie Mack’s famous $100,000 infield, Barry also helped his Philadelphia Athletics win championships. Four of them, exactly, as his team captured titles in 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1915.
His card is also noteworthy as it is the only horizontal issue in the entire set. Why Barry was chosen for that distinction isn’t known but it does make for a very unique card. And starting around $75 in decent condition, it’s not an expensive one, either.
Starting around $250-$300, McKechnie’s card is not necessarily undervalued. I do, however, think it’s safe to say it is often overlooked when collectors think of the key cards in the T207 set. A .251 hitter, he wasn’t a big time star at the plate. But McKechnie was a solid player both offensively and defensively, helping him carve out an 11-year career as a major leaguer.
But where McKechnie really made his mark was as a manager and he found success at several stops. In 1925, he led the Pittsburgh Pirates to a World Series title. Three years later, he would lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a pennant. In 1939, he would do the same with the Cincinnati Reds and the following year, 1940, he would lead the Reds to a World Series championship. With 1,896 career managerial victories, he ranks 14th all-time in that category, leading him to a Hall of Fame induction.