The Old Ball Game


All-Star Baseball series (R401-1), issued by Leaf Gum Company, 1948

With the teams now set for the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs will face off against the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 this Tuesday, October 25th for the grand finale of the MLB baseball season. In another baseball finale, The Old Ball Game: New York Baseball, 1887–1977, a wonderful exhibit of historical baseball cards at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is on view for the last few weeks of its run.

Baseball cards were originally produced by tobacco companies, and starting in the 1880’s included in cigarette packs as a marketing gimmick. It wasn’t until the 1930s that they were included in packs of gum to appeal to the youth market. The exhibit showcases these artistic little gems, some of the earliest baseball cards ever produced, celebrating many of the game’s greatest players in the the prime of their careers.

From the Old Judge Cigarettes series N173, 1887-1889. The series consists of 407 cabinet cards issued by Goodwin & Company, New York. 

Baseball fan or not The Old Ball Game: New York Baseball, 1887–1977  is a must-see and a visual treat in particular for those who appreciate design. These baseball cards are like miniature posters, combining illustration, photography, and typography in a variety of graphic styles not typically seen anymore on modern day trading cards.

Trade cards from “White Border” series (T206), issued 1909-11 to promote sixteen brands of cigarettes and loose tobacco distributed by the American Tobacco Company.

With the record just set for the most expensive baseball card ever sold at auction, $3.2 million for one of the most famous and extremely rare 1909 Honus Wagner baseball cards, don’t miss this chance to see many of the most valuable baseball cards and their appeal to young and old before the exhibit closes on November 13th.

Delong Gum Company, Boston, Massachusetts. Issued 1933