Like many strip card issues, the W522 release included a hodgepodge of baseball players in a small set. But despite its small size, the set has some mysteries surrounding it nearly 100 years after it was produced. Here’s a closer look at this early 1920s release.
W522 Strip Card Basics
The W522 strip card set includes a total of 20 baseball cards. But with two players repeated (Zack Wheat and Mike Gonzalez), there are really only 18 different players featured. Similar to other strip card issues, the artwork leaves much to be desired. The first ten cards in the set are portraits or half body poses while the latter ten are full-body pictures.
The set is small but includes a few error cards. Both of Gonzalez’s cards have his name as Gonzales with an ‘s’ on the end. Stan Covaleski is spelled as ‘Kovaleski.’ And Benny Kauff’s card only spells his name with one ‘f.’ Additionally, the two cards of Zack Wheat spell his first name with an ‘h’ instead of the more correct ‘k’ as it is cited in most other sources.
Finally, the set parallels the W520 strip card set, using the same players/images (but different numbers). The two sets both contain the same spelling issues.
Confusion in the Set
For such a small set, the amount of questions about it is considerable.
First, the dating of it is not entirely confirmed. For example, most sources cite the W522 cards as 1920 issues. While that is generally the accepted date, it may not necessarily be correct. As pointed out in this thread, the set could have a 1921 date or even have been produced over multiple years. A problem with trying to determine its date is that player teams are not provided and it is not easy to tell which team they represent judging by the uniforms. Additionally, the dating cannot be conclusively tied to players and their teams, anyway. Christy Mathewson is in the set but his playing career ended in 1916 (though he was a manager through 1918 with the Cincinnati Reds).
Dating is only one piece of the pie, though. Another head-scratcher is the numbering on this set. Unlike the nearly parallel W520 release, the numbering for these cards curiously starts at No. 31. That seems to indicate that they were part of a larger set that was numbered through No. 30 but any indication of such a set is unclear.
Another odd feature of the set revolves around the format of the player names on the cards. 14 of the cards in the set present both the player’s first and last name but six only have a last name. And the case is even stranger when you look at the cards of Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez was the only major league player with that last name at the time according to Baseball-Reference so we can say that he is the player pictured on both cards. Yet, one of his cards has his full name while the other only has his last name. There is no known reason for the inconsistencies there.
Finally, the linkage to the W520 strip card set is also a head-scratcher. As stated, the cards in the two sets have the exact same players and exact same poses. The only real differences are that of the card numbering. The W520 strip cards were numbered a more appropriate 1-20 with numbers appearing in the lower right hand corner. By contract, the W522 cards are numbered 31-50 with the numbering in the lower left corner. Why two nearly identical sets were created with the different numbering schemes is unknown.
31. Benny Kauff
32. Tris Speaker
33. Zack Wheat
34. Mike Gonzalez
35. Wilbur Cooper
36. Art Fletcher
37. Jess Barnes
38. Larry Doyle
39. Christy Mathewson
40. Dave Bancroft
41. Les Nunamaker
42. Mike Gonzalez
43. George Kelly
44. Otto Miller
45. Pol Perritt
46. Goldie Rapp
47. Stan Coveleski
48. Babe Ruth
49. Phil Douglas
50. Zack Wheat
W522 Strip Card Prices
W522 cards are less common than other strip issues. The set is not impossible to assemble with its relatively small size. However, the cards do not appear as much as some others do and that can make for its completion to be rather difficult.
Commons usually start in the $25-$50 range with the big name players like Wheat and Speaker selling for more. Ruth is easily the key card in the set and a modest PSA 2 sold by Goldin Auctions for more than $860.
You can see some W522 cards on eBay here.