The 1909 T204 Ramly set provides one of the most appealing designs in the pre-war era. Utilizing cards that are nearly square along with an ornate gold frame and black and white pictures, the set is certainly unique. The set has an early card of Walter Johnson and many other Hall of Famers.
Despite that and the fact that it included 121 cards, however, the release also lacked some of the biggest names in the game. Here are five players who are mysteriously absent from the set.
Without a doubt, Cobb is the big gun missing from the Ramly set. By the time it was produced, he was arguably baseball’s top player. Cobb appeared in virtually every one of the other major sets produced in that era and his absence here is puzzling at best. He had led the league in hits, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and batting average in each of the two preceding years (1907 and 1908) before this set was issued. 1909 was also another banner year for Cobb as he hit a blistering .377, leading the league in runs, hits, and runs batted in.
You can only imagine that Cobb wasn’t included because the company couldn’t come to an agreement with the Hall of Famer to use his likeness on the card. Aside from that, there’s really no reason he shouldn’t have been included here. A Cobb card could easily have become the most expensive one in the set.
If there’s one player that would challenge Cobb’s popularity at the time, it would be Honus Wagner. In 1909, Wagner and Cobb were both front and center as Wagner’s Pirates topped Cobb’s Tigers in the World Series that season. 1909 was one of Wagner’s best seasons, leading the league in batting average, OPS, doubles, and several other categories.
Wagner, of course, is known for his semi-appearance in the T206 set. Some Wagner cards were printed in that set but it appears to have been pulled from production early in the process. This is another tobacco set that possibly could not secure his permission to include him and Wagner’s issues with appearing in the T206 set help make his absence here a little more understandable.
By 1909, Cy Young was winding down his remarkable career. Well past his prime, Young had his last good season in 1909, winning 19 games and posting a 2.26 ERA. But even though it was a solid year, his 19 wins were among the lowest of his career to that point.
It might seem obvious to avoid including an aging player near the end of his career in a somewhat limited set but Young was still beyond productive by the time the set was made. In addition, he was also included in several other sets around the same time, including the T206 release where he was featured on three cards. Why he wouldn’t have been included here is a mystery.
Mathewson is another hurler that was curiously left out of this release. Mathewson’s 1908 campaign was arguably the best of his career and that makes his absence even more odd. That year, Mathewson won 37 games, losing 11, and led the league in wins, ERA, strikeouts, games pitched, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, and even saves. It wasn’t only his most dominant season but one of the all-time great seasons for pitchers in baseball history.
Unlike Young, Matty was in the prime of his career at the time of the Ramly set’s creation. There’s no disputing that he would have given the release a major boost.
Tris Speaker is yet another big name Hall of Famer that is missing from this. But while he did appear in the 1909-11 T206 issue, his absence here is a little more understandable.
Speaker would go on to become one of baseball’s biggest stars in the 1910s, but by the time the Ramly set was introduced, he was a little-known player. In 1908, the year before the set was created, Speaker had appeared in only 31 games as a part-time player, hitting a meager .224. 1907 was his first year in baseball and he appeared in only seven games then, hitting .158. By 1909, Speaker looked much more like a project than a Hall of Famer. Ironically, though, that was the year he would get things going, playing 143 games and hitting .309.
There’s no Nap Lajoie or Sam Crawford either and while it’s likely we’ll never know exactly why some of the game’s top names aren’t on the checklist but there are 15 Hall of Famers included.