What Cable TV Personality Takes Issue With Woman's 'Oldest Baseball Card' Claim?

This isn't really a blind item, because if plied with free beers, I will totally reveal the person's identity. But you may treat it as one if you wish.

If you're like me, you've been following the story of Bernice Gallego, who recently sold an 1869 Peck & Snyder baseball card, depicting a team photo of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, on eBay for $75,285. The original story in the Fresno Bee makes the claim that the card set — of which there are only three or four examples in existence — represents the oldest known baseball card.

But then I got a e-mail this morning from a TV personality who says that is not true. (Hint: It's not Jon Stewart. He's not speaking to us ever since we ran this).


Not that this matters, but the PR blitz about "the oldest known card" has been so relentless that it requires a little pushback.

It ain't.

Cards are known from 1868 (team picture of the Brooklyn Atlantics), 1863 (cards of players like Harry Wright that doubled as tickets to an All-Star Baseball/Cricket tournament), and some other time in the 1860's (a memorial to the game's first superstar, Jim Creighton).

And by golly, it only took me a minute on the internets to find the Brooklyn Atlantics card (pictured). From Cycleback.com:

The Trade Cards distributed by Peck and Snyder are generally regarded as the first baseball cards. They were the first 'mass produced' advertising cards with a baseball theme. Peck and Snyder was a manufacturer of baseball equipment, and their cards featured prominent teams of the day.

And, in fact, here's another, earlier card circa 1865 depicting Dave Birdsall, who would later play on that 1869 Red Stockings team (name misidentified on the card pictured).

The distinction, I guess, is that the 1869 Red Stockings card is the first card depicting a truly professional team; in other words, the first team on a baseball card that actually drew paychecks for playing baseball. That distinction seems rather arbitrary to me. Uniforms, handlebar mustaches, pomade ... yep, that's a baseball team. So the 1869 Red Stockings isn't close to being the first one.

However, every news outlet which has picked up the story over the past couple of months has repeated the claim that the Red Stockings card is the oldest. Not a monumental mistake by any means, but just an example of how an unreasearched claim can become fact if allowed to gain enough momentum.

Early Trade Cards [Cycleback.com]
The First Baseball Card? [Robert Edwards Auctions]