Ah, my collection of Cincinnati Reds Tobacco Cards. Mostly beat to hell. Perfect.
From left to right, Mike Mowrey, Art Fromme, Dick Hoblitzell, Jean Dubuc, and Hans Lobert from the 1909-11 T206 set, and Dick Egan from the 1911 T205 Gold Border set.
The T206's get all the love, and rightfully so, but the T205's should be a little more popular. They're just steamrolled by the cult of personality that the Honus Wagner card has created. I'm guilty of succumbing to it as well, as evidenced by my 5 to 1 ratio of 206 vs. 205. I wonder if these players thought it was cool to be on cards like this, or if they only cared about the $10 they were given (the equivalent of about $250 today). I'm thinking they only cared about the $10.
They all kind of look like ghosts from a different world. Faded photos, wearing strange clothing and wandering some alien landscape. They kind of are, I suppose. Only adds to the mystique of these people we know so little about, compared to the modern players, about whom we know everything from their diet to their sexual proclivities to their talcum powder preference. Whatever. These gentlemen above played the game for no other reason than the joy of sport, rewarded only in the historic obscurity of boxscores and encyclopedia entries. And they are honored, now, a hundred years later, on pieces of cardboard, sandwiched between slabs of plastic, resting on some living room shelves in my house. "How can you not be romantic about baseball?"