September 30, 1998
Contact: Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
More Than 2,100 Early Baseball Cards Offered On-Line
Cards of Legendary Players Such as Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Connie Mack Available
More than 2,100 baseball cards, depicting some of the most famous players in the sport, are on view at the Library of Congress American Memory Web site at www.loc.gov/.
The cards show such legendary figures as Ty Cobb stealing third base for Detroit, Tris Speaker batting for Boston and pitcher Cy Young posing formally in his Cleveland uniform. Other notable players include Connie Mack, Walter Johnson, King Kelly, and Christy Mathewson.
The images can be seen in the "Baseball Cards, 1887-1914" collection. Baseball cards first became popular in the 1880s when tobacco companies used them to stiffen the small, soft cigarette packages and promote sales. Although the cards vary in design and format, most are 1-1/2 by 2-5/8 inches, much smaller than today's sports trading cards. Issued either as black-and-white photographs or color prints, they portray the ballplayers both in action scenes and formal poses.
Cigarette card collector Benjamin K. Edwards preserved these baseball cards in albums with more than 12,000 other cards on many subjects. After his death, Edwards's daughter gave the albums to noted poet and Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg, who donated them to the Library's Prints and Photographs Division in 1954. This collection is offered in celebration of Major League Baseball's 1998 World Series.
A Special Presentation, called "Tinker to Evers to Chance!," relates how Chicago Cubs infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance formed the most memorable double-play combination in the history of baseball. Their consistently solid fielding and hitting led the Cubs to four National League pennants (1906-08, 1910) and two World Series wins (1907-08). The Hall of Fame inducted all three simultaneously in 1946. In 1910, New York newspaper columnist Franklin Pierce Adams immortalized the three ballplayers in a short verse titled "Baseball's Sad Lexicon." His poem laments the repeated success of the Chicago Cubs and their celebrated infield against Adams's beloved National League rivals, the New York Giants.
The Library's collection of rare and early baseball cards includes the first known card, on display in the permanent exhibition "American Treasures of the Library of Congress" and also on view in the on-line exhibition of the same name. A related electronic collection, "By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s," includes materials that tell the story of the pioneering Robinson in particular and the history of baseball in general.
American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program, which, in collaboration with other major repositories, will make available on-line millions of materials relating to American history by the year 2000, the bicentennial of the Library of Congress.
The Library's Web site is one of the most widely used, generating an average of 2.2 million "hits" per day.
More than 40 collections are now available in media ranging from photographs, manuscripts and maps to motion pictures, sound recordings and presidential papers. Recently made available is a collection of famous and never-before-seen photographs from the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information in "America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photos from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945."
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