“No, it’s not my terrific personality. They know I come bearing gifts—contracts, checks and immortality of sorts.”
Joan Crosby had a pretty good handle on her job when she was interviewed for the production of a wire service photograph in the summer of 1953. Crosby was Bowman Gum’s representative, a woman responsible for not only acquiring player agreements for the company’s baseball card sets but writing at least some of what was printed on the backs of the cards as well.
RMY Auctions has uncovered a 1953 photo of Crosby, who is surrounded by some of the company’s previously issued cards. It’s among more than 1,400 photos in their Winter Premier Auction but certainly among the most interesting for card collectors.
A lengthy caption on the back of the 6×9 photo calls her “a familiar face in in all of New York’s ballparks,” and indicated she would meet with “an average of 400 players each year.”
That wasn’t an easy task.
In the midst of the “baseball card wars” of the 1950s, both companies offered small incentives to the players. Topps had an advantage because it’s rep, Sy Berger, had access to major league clubhouses at the time and as a woman, Crosby did not. There’s little doubt Crosby probably had to be creative and persistent to do part of her job.
The photo and a portion of the caption that appears on the back of the original being offered by RMY appeared in numerous newspapers that summer. It doesn’t appear that there was a story produced in association with the photo. Apparently the novelty of a woman handling the fact checking and contractual affairs of a bubble gum card producer was interesting—just not interesting enough.