When discussing the first great home run hitters, Babe Ruth’s name usually jumps to the top of the list. But before the Babe came onto the scene, players such as Roger Connor and Home Run Baker were even earlier kings of the long ball. From 1911-1914, Baker led the league in home runs each season and, despite having only 96 in his career, he was one of the game’s early great home run hitters in an era where not too many were hit.
Playing a good portion of his career during the 1910s when there weren’t an abundance of baseball cards, Home Run Baker isn’t pictured on a ton of issues. But he is found in some sets and has some great affordable pre-war cards to boot.
1913 National Game or Barker Game
The 1913 National Game and Barker Game sets are virtually identical issues and Baker is featured in both.
These black and white cards have rounded corners, similar to other playing card issues, and are often found in good condition. In decent mid-grade shape, you can find the card for under $50 and even in near-mint condition, it’s often under $100.
Should you want a bigger, more expensive challenge, you can look for one of Baker’s rare stamped versions of these cards with a Fenway Breweries overprint.
1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folder (with Jack Barry)
Some of Home Run Baker’s T202 Hassan Triple Folder cards aren’t overly cheap as they feature Hall of Famer Eddie Collins on one side. But others are a bit more affordable with teammate Jack Barry as the other featured panel instead.
If you’re not a mint freak and you’re patient enough to bid in an auction, you can sometimes find those cards on eBay at around $100. If you’re looking for something even more affordable, sometimes the individual cut panels of only Baker are available at a fraction of the price…and it’s a great looking card by itself.
1940 Play Ball
Depending on what your definition of pre-war includes, the 1940 Play Ball card might fit the bill. It came many years after his playing days but is still a great older issue of the Hall of Famer.
The price point is just right as well as it can often be found for around $50 or less.
Baker is one of many Hall of Famers featured in the iconic T205 set. And while you can find more affordable cards, his popular tobacco issue won’t cost you too much.
The card is generally on par with Baker’s T206 card even though the T205 version is significantly rarer. You can find reasonable copies starting around $200. Considering it is from one of the most iconic card sets of all time, that is a relative bargain.
1919-21 W514 Strip Card
Home Run Baker has a few strip cards available and one of his more common ones is his W514 card. This card is found in the massive (for a strip issue, anyway) 120-card set featuring many other players.
Like other strip cards, affordability is the key here and you can often find raw mid-grade issues for around $100 or less.