Were they the first baseball cards or just the first really nice scorecards?
A case can be made that Maxson Mortimer “Mort” Rogers created both. The former player turned entrepreneur spent 1871 rolling out some fancy scorecards he sold to fans. Today, they’re among the scarcest, most desirable pieces of early baseball history. Early next year, Heritage Auctions will offer a fresh group of seven different high grade examples in its next major sale.
The scorecards feature photographs of players hand glued to the front of the functional scorecard. Advertising appears on the back.
At a cost of 10 cents (a little over $2 in today’s money), fans were encouraged to buy and collect their own set of players. Apparently, the price was a little too steep for the time and Rogers’ idea passed into history–at least for a while. The cards are connected to a tumultuous time in pro baseball history. MLB Historian John Thorn chronicled the story in his Our Game blog.
The cards that will be offered by Heritage each carry a pre-sale estimate of $15,000 and up.
The group includes the only known example featuring Douglas Allison as well as covers with Calvin McVey, Charles Gould, Fred Cone, Samuel Jackson, Frank Barrows and Charles Sweasy.
Bidding in the auction is slated to open February 1 and close over a two-day period February 23 and 24.