When the topic of betting on baseball is discussed, the most common subjects mentioned are Pete Rose and the 1919 Chicago White Sox team. Their cases are well documented by collectors and, in the case of the White Sox, it has even driven the card values of most of the involved players far beyond what they would be otherwise. The prices for cards of players such as Buck Weaver have been extraordinarily high. because of their role in the scandal.
But those are just the most high-profile cases. Over the years, others have been involved with gambling in baseball, too. One of those is Hal Chase.
Hal Chase is not a Hall of Famer but he certainly could have been. He has been cited by Babe Ruth and Cy Young to be the greatest first baseman they ever saw. Many players have since come and gone since their time, of course. But that kind of accolade from those types of players is quite the endorsement. In fact, Chase is sometimes referred to as the first star of the Yankees (initially the Highlanders) franchise.
Unfortunately for him, gambling allegations were numerous during his career. He was said to have paid players to underperform. That ultimately led to teams blackballing him, despite his talent. He was never officially banned from the game. however, Chase was viewed essentially as off limits by most accounts.
Chase was an older player by the time he appeared in his final major league game. But he still seemed to have plenty left in the tank. That was evidenced by Chase batting .301 as a 35-year-old in 1918 with the Reds and a respectable .284 with the Giants in 1919 (his last year). In 1916 only a few seasons earlier, he led the entire league in hitting, batting .339. Further, many have heralded Chase’s defensive capabilities as above average (even though he actually led the league in errors seven times).
The gambling allegations undoubtedly affected his chances of making the Hall of Fame. Despite that, his cards not only sell for good amounts. In fact, many are on par with those of lower-tier Hall of Famers.
One of the fun facts of the T206 baseball card set is that, of the many stars with numerous cards in it, Chase is the most prominently featured. Some, like Ty Cobb, have four cards but no one has the five different cards as Chase does. Chase’s cards aren’t commons, either, starting around $100-$150 in lower mid-grade condition. His pink portrait card, the most regarded of the five, starts at a bit higher. His T206 cards are among his most common issues. One of his more unique cards is the one featuring him with The Loving Cup, as shown here. The story behind it is an interesting one, adding to its intrigue.
Chase’s popularity continued into the 1911 gold border T205 set. In that set, the number of cards for players was far more limited. That is seen in the overall size of the set. The release included just over 200 cards — less than half of the massive 524 in the T206 set.
Even then, Chase still managed to get two cards in that set. That was despite the fact that many other bigger names, such as Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Cy Young, had only one.
Chase technically has three cards in the set if you count an error card, which includes a baseline printing mistake. Those cards, too, are relatively easy to find. His more common front view card has similar price points as his T206 cards with his side view variation costing a bit more.
Similarly, Chase’s caramel cards do quite well and are on pace with those of other stars, too.
One of his more common caramel issues is his E90-1 American Caramel card. There, you can expect to pay $100 or more for anything in decent condition above a low-grade card. The star is also in plenty of other caramel/candy issues, including E92, E93, E98, E101, E103, E104, E105, and E224, the Texas Tommy set. Chase is also prominently featured elsewhere, too, as he is one of only a few players in American Caramel’s E106 set to have two different cards.
Another popular Chase card is his 1915 Cracker Jack card. He was one of the players added to that set after being left out of the 1914 edition. His caramel cards sell for varying amounts but the one consistent is that they are valued well above common range and on par with some Hall of Famers.
Additionally, Chase is found in several other tougher, more exclusive sets as well, and he has a good number of options available to collectors. You can see what’s available on eBay here.
Chase may not have made it to Cooperstown but his cards are priced similarly with some that have.