Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sam Hairston added to my 1952 Topps customs

Sometimes the simple availability of a really great player photo jumps a card to the top of my custom card to-do list.

That was the case recently with the Sam Hairston card I made in the 1952 Topps format.

Baseball fans and collectors today are more familiar with Sam Hairston's two major league sons (Jerry and John) and two major league grandsons (Jerry Jr. and Scott). While the paterfamilias of this largest father-son-grandson major league lineage had  only a short major league career (four games in 1951), he spent a lifetime in professional baseball.

For details, see the biography by Rory Costello in the SABR baseball player BioProject: .  

For all the years he was associated with the game as a semi-pro player, Negro Leagues and Latin winter leagues star, .304 lifetime (11 seasons) minor league player and cup-of-coffee major leaguer, Hairston had only a handful of contemporary baseball cards. 

He can be found in the Toleteros Puerto Rican League sets of 1948-49 and 1949-50, and perhaps one or two other Latin American issues not yet completely cataloged. For a real challenge, you can try to find his minor league cards from the Globe Printing team-issued sets of the 1952 Colorado Springs Sky Sox and the 1954 Charleston Senators. 

Hairston had several modern minor league cards from the early 1990s reflecting his days as a coach and instructor in the White Sox organization.

My custom card represents that tiny portion of his playing days as a major leaguer. Some fans and collectors have a special interest in Sam Hairston as a pioneering black major leaguer. Hairston was not the first black player to appear for the Chicago White Sox, Cuban Minnie Minoso holds that distinction. Hairston, however, was the first African-American player on the team; perhaps a distinction without a difference.

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