Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXXIV
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 7/29/2011
The winner of this auction will hit “The Daily Double” in terms of rarity, for what may be the most rare card variation in the entire T206 set.
American Tobacco changed pitcher Frank Smith’s team designation to “Chicago and Boston” after the burly, head-strong and highly talented hurler was dealt to the Red Sox on August 9, 1910, along with light-hitting infielder Billy Purtell, for the often brilliant but always inconsistent Harry Lord and slap-hitting second baseman Amby McConnell. So, in reality, by the time Smith’s card, listing both teams, hit circulation, there was only one year remaining in the production lifecycle of the T206 set. Couple this one year release, with the ultra rare Factory 42 variation, and this Smith Chicago & Boston variation, might possibly rarer than even the prized holy grail of collecting, the T206 Honus Wagner.
Ironically, Smith was traded in 1910 while playing for one of the most miserable teams in the White Sox early history. Playing in newly opened Comiskey Park, “The Baseball Palace of the World,” the lowly White Sox would draw over a half-million fans in 1910, a staggering figure for the time. In 1910, Smith was a mere 4-9 in 19 starts; however, the rugged righty also had a 2.03 ERA and 3 of his 4 wins were by shutout. Even with the guidance of Hall of Famer Hugh Duffy, the Sox couldn’t hit their way out of paper bags in 1910. There was no offense.
Always controversial, owner Charlie Comiskey viewed Smith as a malcontent and Smith viewed Comiskey as a cheapskate. Both men probably shared true opinions. And both were hard-headed to say the least. In 1908, in the middle of the tightest pennant race of all time, with the White Sox in reach of winning the AL crown, Smith abandoned the White Sox in a salary dispute with Chicago ownership. Smith actually made more money moving pianos than he made playing baseball.
Comiskey accused Smith of “habitual drunkness” after the stout right-hander left the team. So to prove “The Old Roman” wrong, Smith returned with a vengeance in 1909 and enjoyed his finest season, winning 25, posting a 1.80 ERA and striking out an AL high 177.
So, with all the history and all the scarcity, this Frank Smith is a must for the T206 collector or advanced hobbyist. While graded a PSA 5 EX, this card shows far above grade. The colors are striking and still vibrant. The borders are clean, with only modest touches at the corners. Could this card bring another half to a full point at re-grade? We think it’s possible. And considering the level of scarcity this card represents, a re-grade could net a substantial sum in net value.
We’ve never seen the Chicago & Boston variation combined with the Factory 42 variation on this card before, and we doubt we ever will again. In a world where the words scarce and rare are often overused, they truly apply here. Bid accordingly.
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