A while back, I discussed some T205 cards that could have been added to the release to make it even better. But one set that is even more starved for big names is the 1912 T207 Brown Background set. The issue is popular with a segment of pre-war collectors. However, many are turned off by the set, which is not as colorful as other T-Card issues and, more importantly, is lacking some big names that appeared in other sets. The rarity of certain cards also makes it a difficult pursuit.
To be fair, the T207 set did have its fair share of key players from the era, including Walter Johnson, Zack Wheat, Tris Speaker, John McGraw, Chief Bender, Eddie Cicotte, Frank Chance, Joe Tinker, Bobby Wallace, and others. Additionally, it included new stars not found in the T205 or T206 sets such as Smoky Joe Wood, Buck Weaver, Harry Hooper, and Max Carey. Still, the set could have used a few more big names.
Here are five that would have been solid additions.
5. Christy Mathewson
Matty’s absence from the set is a head-scratcher. He was on the other side of 30 of an incredible career, but still one of the game’s top pitchers when the set was released. A year earlier, he had finished second in the MVP voting (his highest result ever) and led the league with a 1.99 ERA while winning 26 games. The set did manage to snag Walter Johnson but whiffed here on Mathewson, one of the game’s most dominant hurlers.
4. Cy Young
Unlike Mathewson, Young’s no-show was easier to explain as 1911 was the final season of his career and the T207 set was introduced in 1912. But players often have tribute cards in the year after their career ends and can you imagine the demand for a Young career retrospective card? There was some indirect precedence for that sort of thing, too.
The T205 issue released a year earlier included a tribute card to pitcher Addie Joss, who tragically died of meningitis in April of 1911 before the set was distributed. Joss’ card was probably created before he died with only the biography changing so it was likely an unplanned tribute. But it ended up being one of the most sought after cards in the set and a Young card here could have had a similar effect.
3. Ty Cobb
Without a doubt, the set’s fatal flaw in missing players from the T205 and T206 sets is Ty Cobb. Aside from the ultra rare Big 4 from the T206 set and some rarer variations, Cobb’s cards are the key to both of those releases. How Cobb was left out of the set is a mystery but when see the many big names not included, you almost wonder if compensation was an issue. And, sure, at 200 cards, the set is the smallest in the T205, T206, and T207 run. But to not include one the game’s top player was absolutely criminal.
Cobb was unquestionably the best position player in the game at the time, winning the 1911 Most Valuable Player award after leading the league in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases, total bases, and OPS in one of the most dominant seasons of all time.
2. Honus Wagner
Honus Wagner is not found in the T205 or T207 sets and is definitely a player that would have been nice to feature here. Wagner, of course, does have the T206 issue, which is the most iconic baseball card in history. But that card is now reserved for the ultra-wealthy.
One reason I would have loved to see Wagner here is because his visage perfectly suits this issue. Wagner, particularly in pictures from his later years, often looked tired, worn down, and reserved. Imagine his portrait here against the dark chocolate background of the T207 set. If done correctly (which is admittedly a big ask considering the lesser quality of some other cards in the set such as Walter Johnson), it could be an incredible card.
1. Joe Jackson
Shoeless Joe tops my list here and gets the nod ahead of Cobb for the top spot simply because of the lack of his cards in general. A Cobb card would have been huge for the set in terms of making it more collectable but Cobb has plenty of cards. Jackson’s addition here would have given the set all kinds of additional credibility.
Of all the players on this list, Jackson is the one I wish was included the most. 1912 was also one of his best seasons, when he led the league in hits (227) while batting .395 with the Cleveland Naps.