Nap Lajoie is perhaps most famous to collectors for his extremely rare 1933 Goudey short print card, which is the most difficult to acquire in the set. However, the former Cleveland and Philadelphia star has numerous other interesting pre-war options for buyers on a budget.
Collecting any player from the early 1900s may seem like a daunting and expensive proposition, but finding relatively affordable older cards of Lajoie can still be accomplished relatively easily. Here’s a look at five of the more attractive and inexpensive issues from his playing days.
Old game cards are a great option for collectors on a budget wanting to find period issues from pre-war Hall of Famers in their playing days and Nap Lajoie is no exception. While several game cards exist with sets featuring a variety of players, Lajoie had his own set that was produced in 1913. These cards are certainly rarer than most post-war issues but aren’t too difficult to find, mostly because Lajoie was the only player in the set and is featured on every card.
The cards are either blue or red with Lajoie’s image on one side and have game play designations on the other side. Plus, the prices can’t be beat when you talk about bang for the buck. Lajoie game cards generally are available in the $20 – $30 range and it’s an affordable issue that fits most collector budgets.
2. 1919-21 W514 Strip Card
Many collectors have a love-hate relationship with strip cards. Often visually unattractive, these cards were usually printed on thinner stock and either torn or cut off of a long strip of cards by store merchants before being given to customers. While it is hard to defend the artwork on many W-cards, the Nap Lajoie W514 isn’t too shabby. This card features Lajoie with the Cleveland Naps and in full uniform with red sleeves. It’s also affordable and when found, with $30-$50 enough to snare a lower grade example.
Collectors can take their pick of any one of three Nap Lajoie cards from ‘The Monster.’ The Clevelander is featured here via three variations – in a portrait, with a bat, and throwing a ball. All three versions have appealing artwork and the good news is that finding all of them is relatively easy. Even better news is that while low-grade examples of other big names in the set such as Ty Cobb and Cy Young are considerably more expensive, low-grade Lajoie examples can often be found in the $75 – $125 range.
4. 1914 WG4 Polo Grounds Game
While a tougher issue to find, this is still one of Nap Lajoie’s more affordable cards. This is another game card with a picture of Lajoie on one side and a black and white image of Polo Grounds on the back. It isn’t as plentiful as his game cards mentioned above since all of those featured Lajoie while his card here is part of a set of 30 players. Still, when you can find it, you shouldn’t expect to pay all that much. PSA’s SMR price guide has Graded 4s and 5s in the $20 – $35 range.
Quick, what does Lajoie have in common with Cy Barger, Nap Rucker, and Bill Bergen? He shared a card with each of them in the T202 Hassan Triple Folders set.
A Lajoie panel is sandwiched in between Barger and Bergen on one card and between Rucker and Bergen on the other. He is featured in the middle in a black and white photo at bat and identified on the back with the caption, “A Great Batsman.”
The accompanying description on his card states that he is ‘one of the most confident batsmen of his time.’ Lower-grade examples can be yours in the $50-$75 range and if that’s still out of reach, you could consider picking up only the separated Lajoie panel for around $30-$40.