Thorn: Rhapsody in cardboard

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on June 6, 2012:

The first businesses to exploit baseball players to promote their products were tobacco companies. It seems strange now to see advertisements featuring such Hall of Famers as George Wright, King Kelly, and Hoss Radbourn endorsing Red Stocking Cigars, but those were the days when smoking was an unalloyed pleasure. The largest card set ever issued—numbering over 2,300 separate images—was a photographic series produced by the Goodwin Company for its Old Judge brand in the late 1880s.

The Goodwin Round Album, a spectacular chromolithographed 1888 premium, featured the most popular players of the day in eight circular pages with anywhere from one to four stars per: Cap Anson, King Kelly, and Charlie Comiskey each occupies a page of his own. The page shown here has some of the New York National League team, such as manager Jim Mutrie, third baseman Art Whitney, and pitcher Ledell Titcomb, who was graced with the splendid alias of “Cannonball.” The “mascot” was a young boy; in years to come the fashion in good-luck charms ran to street urchins like Detroit’s “L’il Rastus,” dwarfs like the Philadelphia A’s Louis Van Zelst, and gently demented souls like the New York Giants’ Charles “Victory” Faust.

Read the full article here:

Related link: John Thorn, MLB’s Official Historian, will be the keynote speaker at SABR 42, June 27-July 1 in Minneapolis

Originally published: June 7, 2012. Last Updated: June 7, 2012.