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The First Baseball Card, Arguably?

Salience Peripheral
Tags Antedated Firsts, Ball in the Culture
City/State/Country: New York, NY, United States
Game Base Ball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Adult

"What's the first baseball card?  (I say it's the invitation to the Magnolia Club's First Annual Ball ball in February 1844.)"




John Thorn, FB Posting, 3/1/2022.  [Right-side image, below] The announcement of the event appears in the New York Herald on February 8, 1844.


[1] Another candidate as first baseball card is a photo of Sam Wright (with a cricket bat) and his son Harry, evidently used as on a souvenir ticket to a 1866  benefit for the Wrights. 

Voigt writes "To finance the affair, a 25-cent admission charge was asked, and all comers were also encouraged to part with an extra 25 cents for a souvenir ticket . . . . Wright was more interested in his cash cut, which came to $29.65."  David Vincent Voigt, American Baseball (University of Oklahoma Press, 1966), p. 28.

John Thorn points out that this event can be mainly viewed as a cricket event. Three games were planned as part of the affair, and two were cricket games.  A base ball game was to follow, but it was rained out.

[2] Gary Passamonte observes: "This ["first base ball card"] debate has raged on for many years.  I believe the 1886 Old Judge N167 set would be the first undisputed group of baseball cards.  All earlier possibilities have detractors with good points." 

[3] For more on the Magnolia Club, see his 2011 article at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/magnolia-ball-club-predates-knickerbocker-af50771cd24b.  In John's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), pp 89-95, he describes his 2007 discovery of the club -- and the card.  "[The ticket] cost a dollar , and, given its enamel-coated card stock and its commissioned rather than stock imagery, was likely intended to be saved as a memento of the event.  The baseball scene on the card reveals three bases with stakes (not wickets), eight men in the field, a pitcher with an underarm delivery, possibly base-stealing . . . . This is, from all appearances, the original Knickerbocker game, and that of the New York Base Ball Club. . . . This ticket was the first depiction of men playing baseball in America, and it may be, depending upon one's taxonomic conventions, the first baseball card.  


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Is it time to define "baseball card" a bit more narrowly in declaring a first?? 

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Source Image
1844 Magnolia Image.jpeg
Submitted by John Thorn
Submission Note FB posting of 3/1/2022.


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