The T206 series of baseball cards, known informally as the “White Border” set, was enclosed by the American Tobacco Company in cigarette and loose tobacco packs from 1909 to 1911. Each card features a color lithographic portrait of a major- or minor-league player surrounded by a white border. On the versos are advertisements for company brands, including Sweet Caporal, Piedmont, and Sovereign. The cards have long been popular with collectors due to their rarity and the quality of the lithographs.
An avid Chicago White Sox fan, American realist writer and Studs Lonigan author James T. Farrell (1904–1979) collected 46 cards of the series—mainly Sox players, but also their in-town rivals, the Chicago Cubs. Growing up on the city’s South Side, Farrell was a high-school varsity baseball player who dreamed of a major-league career. He incorporated his encyclopedic knowledge of and passion for the sport into his writings, including two books and several short stories entirely about baseball. Because of the importance of the game to Farrell, his collection of T206 cards adds an important dimension to the small but growing nucleus of his writings and correspondence at the Newberry. The cards are a 2007 gift of Cleo Paturis, Farrell’s longtime companion.
Included the Farrell Collection are the cards of a number of players who participated in the 1906 cross-town World Series, in which the Sox defeated the heavily favored Cubs. Pitching two wins with the assistance of ace defensive catcher Billy Sullivan, the Sox’s Ed Walsh led his team to a surprise four-game-to-two series victory. The 1906 contest was the first World Series for the Cubs’ famous infield trio of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers (pictured on the home page), and Frank Chance, who were immortalized as the “Tinker to Evers to Chance” double-play combination in the wildly popular poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” by New York newspaper columnist Franklin Pierce Adams.
Arnold (“Chick”) Gandil’s card is also in the collection. Recruited by the White Sox in 1909, he made his major-league debut with the team in 1910. After a disastrous batting season, Gandil was sold in 1911 to Montreal. He later played in the majors with the Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians before returning to the White Sox in 1917. Gandil is known as the ringleader of the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal, in which eight Sox players allegedly threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
This essay was written by Newberry Lloyd Lewis Curator of Modern Manuscripts Martha Briggs and published in The Newberry 125, Stories of Our Collection.