In that era, the O's were an International League dynasty, winning seven consecutive (1919-1925) championships under Jack Dunn (1907-1914, 1916-1928), who was most famous for bringing Babe Ruth into Organized Baseball.
The White's baseball cards are printed in sepia tones on 3-1/4" x 5-1/2" thin cardboard stock, and are blank-backed. Because there is nothing on the cards to identify their issuer, odds and end from the set have sat unidentified in various collections in and around Baltimore for decades.
Only a select few cognizeti were privy to the source of these rare cards, by virtue of contemporary newspaper advertising that had proclaimed the availability of "Gravure Photos of the Enite Team of 1921 'Orioles'". The ad, which pictured three of cards, including those shown here (in the ad, the "T" on Maisel's cap had been artlessly changed to a "B") said "A Different One Each Day Will Be Wrapped With Each Wrapped Loaf of White's Big Tip-Top Bread".
The cat was let out of the bag relative to this card set when a group of 14 was brought through the door of a Baltimore card shop and subsequently was consigned to the Dec. 10 Huggins and Scott auction. Thirteen of the team's lesser lights were offered in a single lot -- confounding vintage minor league type card collectors -- while the superstar card from the set, a pre-rookie card of Lefty Grove (ignominiously misspelled "Groves", was offered seperately.
The 13-card lot, all graded by SGC in a range from "Authentic," through Fair and Good to Very Good, sold for $32,250. The Grove, SGC-certified as Fair, went for $29,563 -- good for the consignor and auction house, not so much for the buyer when the second, third, etc., examples come to market.
The actual extent of the White's Orioles set remains unknown, but veteran Maryland collector Al Moore, who provided the examples shown here, believes the set is complete at 21 or 22 cards.
In a blast from the past, Al sent us an honest-to-goodness U.S. Postal Service package the other day with information about the White's cards, photocopies of several of his cards (as well as the first confirmed card from a Globe minor league team set) and of the ad that had appeared in the Baltimore Sun in 1921 (not suitable for reproduction here).
Al has been rummaging around in his safe deposit box and has promised to send more information about current uncataloged cards that have come his way over the years. We look forward to those packages and will be sure to share his finds with you.
By the way, poking around the SABR Minor League Database in an effort to find out what team's cap Maisel is wearing on his White's card, I cam up dry. The "T" on the cap doesn't seem to fit any of Maisel's previous placements in O.B. Between 1911 and 1928 (when he took over the reins of the Orioles from Dunn), Fritz had played only for the Orioles, the N.Y. Yankees and the St. Louis Browns.
We'll wrap up this posting with the list that Al provided of 19 of the 1921 White's Baltimore Orioles cards, in alpha order:
- James Aitcheson
- Max Bishop
- Rufus Clarke
- Ducky Davis
- Jack Dunn
- Ben Egan
- Harry Frank
- Lefty Groves (Grove)
- Bill Holden
- Merwin Jacobson
- R. (Rudy) Kneisch
- Otis Lawry
- Wade Lefler
- Jimmy Lyston
- Fritz Maisel
- Lefty Matthews
- Jimmy Murphy
- Jack Ogden
- Jim Sullivan