Former great Tris Speaker will appear on virtually any reputable ‘Who’s Who’ list in baseball. Voted into the Hall of Fame in 1937, he became one of the first players ever inducted. As a player for four teams (Boston Americans/Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, and Philadelphia Athletics) in a career that spanned from 1907 to 1928, he accomplished a great deal, winning a Most Valuable Player Award and three championships along the way.
Despite a stellar career the pre-war era, some of Tris Speaker’s baseball cards actually remain very affordable. One of his most popular issues, the 1933 Goudey card, was printed after his career. But here’s a look at five from the playing and managing days of “The Grey Eagle” that won’t break the bank.
While Speaker has more prominent T202 cards featuring him on the outside panels in this popular set, an inexpensive option exists for collectors on a budget. Sandwiched between Hall of Famer Fred Clarke and John Miller, Speaker has a cameo on a black and white action shot along with a description of the play in question as well as a biography on the back.
Speaker’s other T202 cards (particularly the one where he is joined by the popular Joe Wood) are more desirable. However, in terms of affordability, this one can’t be beat. It isn’t dirt cheap with Clarke on it, but lesser copies can be found for very reasonable prices.
As a player/manager, Speaker found his way into the 1923 German Transfer set. This rare stamp-type issue included only 25 subjects on a single sheet with each somewhat frail transfer measuring approximately 1 1/4″ x 1 1/2″. While an unseparated sheet sells for hundreds of dollars (Heritage Auction sold one a few years ago for about $400), individual stamps are inexpensive. A PSA 6 graded Speaker recently sold for only $35.
Like many other stars of his era, Speaker was included in the 1913 Tom Barker Game. This set, which originally sold for only fifty cents when first sold over a century ago, often produces affordable options for collectors and Speaker’s card is no exception. While not always the easiest to find, when they do sell at straight auction, the price is sometimes a relatively low one for these black and white issues with deliberate rounded corners.
Another affordable option for fans is one of Speaker’s several strip cards. Hand cut and distributed by stores with purchases, the artwork usually left much to be desired. The Hall of Famer was included in a few such sets, such as the Burdick-designated W512, W515, and W516 issues. None of these are all that pleasing to the eye so they aren’t desired for their curb appeal. But what they lack in design, they make up for in terms of price. Some of the less rare issues can often be found for under $100.
Speaker’s 1910-12 Sweet Caporal pin is not only an exceptional value, but one of his earlier collectibles that were produced. Speaker’s image is displayed on this pin approximately 7/8″ in diameter along with his name and team. In high grade, this pin can fetch hundreds of dollars. However, mid-grade examples of these are usually available for under $100.