More than 100 years later, the 1909-11 T206 White Border set is still providing plenty of intrigue. The 524-card issue includes some of the most iconic pre-war cards being collected today. With such a large release that spanned over more than one season, many players have more than one card in the set. One of those is Hal Chase, whose five cards give him the most of any player in the issue. The Hal Chase Trophy card is one that has an interesting backstory.
Chase was one of the best players of his generation. He was often cited as the top first baseman of his era and it was largely on defense where he earned his reputation. He was more than that, however. A solid offensive player, Chase had a career .291 batting average and led the National League in batting average and hits in 1916. Chase also led the Federal League in home runs the season before that and was a strong two-way player.
He was one of the first stars of the New York Yankees franchise (then known as the Highlanders) and if it wasn’t for gambling allegations, he would almost certainly have been inducted into the Hall of Fame at some point. Chase was a leader on the team but often had disagreements with players and managers, largely because of gambling allegations. Despite that, he would eventually become the team’s player/manager in 1910 and 1911, replacing George Stallings, who was one of his managers that accused Chase of not trying to win games.
Despite all of the controversy surrounding him, Chase had a reasonably long career, playing for numerous teams, including the Highlanders, White Sox, Reds, Buffeds (Federal League), and Giants from 1905-1919.
The Hal Chase Trophy Card
As mentioned, Chase appears on five different T206 cards. Two feature portrait renditions of him – one with a blue background and another with a pink background. Two more are fielding variations with one showing him wearing a dark cap and another, a white one. A fifth card shows him holding a mysterious, unidentified trophy.
While many collectors are not aware of its origins, the trophy being held by Chase is actually called The Loving Cup. The cup was given to Chase as a gift of sorts by teammates in 1909 after he returned to the team following a stint in a hospital where he was recovering from smallpox.
He apparently caught the disease during spring training that year when the team was barnstorming around the country. Chase fell ill in Macon, Georgia during the trip and remained in that state while the team continued its trip. Smallpox was nothing to joke about and, as this article states, there was even some question if cities to which the team was traveling would even want them to still come as it was contagious. No games were canceled, however, and about a month after Opening Day, Chase recovered and joined the team in May, where he was presented with the trophy during his first game back. A rendition of Chase accepting the trophy was created and included in the set.
So we know the story surrounding the card, but what about the actual picture? Well, we can potentially identify that likely source, too. The Detroit Public Library has this image of Chase holding the cup, which is very close to the picture on the card.
It was likely taken by Charles Conlon and this particular picture actually resided in the collection of famous announcer Ernie Harwell.
Hal Chase Trophy Card Prices
While a card that is more than 100 years old with a cool backstory, the Hal Chase Trophy card is pretty affordable and reasonably plentiful. In mid-grade condition, collectors can find them starting around $100-$150. Some with the rarer advertising backs, however, can cost significantly more. A PSA 2 with an American Beauty 460 Series back, for example, sold at auction for about $650.