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1914 - 1915 Cracker Jack

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Vintage 1914 baseball cards shown below for Otis Crandall and Dick Hoblitzell ("Hobby" to his teammates) were graded "Good 2" by PSA which is nice considering their rarity. The Ira Thomas card is dated 1915 and authenticated by SGC (Sportscard Guaranty) appears to have cleaner edges and may be in better condition.  The 1914 cards were printed on thin stock about the thickness of American paper currency and rather difficult to find. They were the "prize" inside packages of Cracker Jack, the candy-coated popcorn & peanut treat.  In 1915 makers Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein of Chicago switched to heavier cardboard stock for the lithographed baseball cards inserted inside each box and allowed collectors to acquire the entire series through the mail which makes the cards slightly more plentiful and easier to find in good condition.  A complete set, 144 cards in '14, 176 cards in '15, feature players from three leagues popular at the time: American, National & Federal...which is an interesting bit of history by itself (read more about the Federal League). 

The Babe Ruth Cracker Jack card is another story altogether.  It was created in 2013 by Memory Lane Inc. in conjunction with grading and authentication service PSA to promote a national convention of card collectors.  What they created is an artist’s conception of what a Babe Ruth 1915 Cracker Jack card might have looked like based on a period photo of Ruth in his Red Sox uniform. Ruth was not included in the 1915 Cracker Jack set, and this amazing artwork nicely depicts a svelte version of the great "the Great Bambino", "the Sultan of Swat", "the Colossus of Clout" in his prime when he pitched for Boston.  "The Card That Never Was".

The promotion was so popular the same parties also created a 5-card set patterned after the classic art-deco influenced 1935-1936 Diamond Stars series from the National Chicle Co.  These versions of "The Card That Never Was" featured Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, not one, but two versions of Ruth (young & mature), plus rookie flame-throwing Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller who made his major league debut in July 1936. [more info]  I purchased the 5-card series on eBay and like 'em...but after a few days I wondered why I needed to own them...just more clutter and "stuff" to put somewhere.  I opted to resell them.

If you find yourself humming "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" here's a classic 1908 version on YouTube.   (The Carly Simon rendition may be more popular today.)

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originally posted 08.16.18