One Oregon family’s history includes a relative that played big league baseball more than 100 years ago. William “Klondike” Douglass had a baseball card, too.
The trouble is, it was part of one of the rarest, most desirable pre-War sets ever made. In fact, you can count the known number of 1903 Breisch-Williams cards of the Philadelphia Phillies catcher on two hands.
Douglass died in 1953 but his descendants have been understandably interested in his exploits as a professional baseball player and the card was part of that legacy. Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Missouri, Douglass had started his career in the 1890s with the St. Louis Browns. He was traded to Philadelphia in 1898 and took over at first base when budding superstar Nap Lajoie moved to second.
Douglass also spent time at catcher and he’s listed at that position on the E107 card issued by Breisch-Williams. His big league career essentially ended after the 1903 season so it was fortunate that he landed in the E107 set.
Finally, after decades of searching, a low grade example recently popped up for sale on eBay. Amazingly, it was being offered by a seller just 160 miles away.
Donnie Emerson pounced at the long-awaited opportunity.
The card had been well-loved in its youth. Creased with rounded corners and lightly trimmed, it probably spent time in the pocket of some early 20th century baseball loving kid.
The great-grandson of Klondike Douglass told the local newspaper about the family’s long quest as he finally held the card in his hand.
“It was a very emotional feeling getting that card in my hand,” Emerson told The Bulletin. “It didn’t leave my side for several days.”
Surprisingly, if he’d missed out on the eBay purchase, he may have had another chance. An E107 Klondike Douglass card was just sold by Heritage Auctions last weekend. Graded Poor by SGC, it sold for $990.