Klugh: Game Faces: A look back on the earliest baseball cards

From Justin Klugh at The Hardball Times on January 23, 2019:

Sam Barkley was a passable infielder from baseball’s early years in the 1880s. Like many of his peers, he suffered from a career-ending knee injury, chronic unemployment, and being stricken with quinsy. Unlike many of his peers, his wife was seduced by an Irish crime lord. None of the pain of his tonsil infection or fluctuating weight is visible in his baseball card, a yellowed, sepia-tone piece of stock paper portraying him with his arm reared back and his mustache bristling, but without it, we may have never known his name. And now, transported through time, he has been handled, digitized, and displayed behind glass at the Library of Congress in a world he could never comprehend. But Barkley, and 2,100 other ball players from his era, are helping us learn a little more about the world from which he came.

Peter Devereaux, a writer-editor at the Library of Congress, used to marvel at the Don Mattingly rookie card in his childhood baseball card collection. Thumbing through a Beckett Baseball Price Guide, he discovered it was worth an amount that blew his preteen mind.

Thirty dollars?!” he says. “That’s a million dollars to a 12-year-old.”

Read the full article here: https://tht.fangraphs.com/game-faces-a-look-back-on-the-earliest-baseball-cards/

Originally published: January 25, 2019. Last Updated: January 25, 2019.