Wednesday, October 14, 2015

#1 William Harridge - American League President


William Harridge
American League President


Born:  October 16, 1881, Chicago, IL
Died:  April 9, 1971, Evanston, IL (age 89)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1972

Will Harridge served as the president of the American League from 1931 through the end of 1958. Having never played the game of baseball, Harridge was hired by former league president Ban Johnson in 1911 to be Johnson's personal secretary.  Perhaps his biggest accomplishment during his tenure was helping to usher in the annual All-Star Game against the rival National League, which was originally to be just a one-time event held at Chicago's Commiskey Park in 1933.  Harridge was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1972, a year after his death.

Building the Set
June 25, 1988 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #57
I acquired this card in the infancy of my Dad and I officially deciding to collect the 1956 Topps set.  I remember finding the card in a bargain bin at the annual Ocean City baseball card show held at the Music Pier on the boardwalk.  I had to convince my Dad that this card was actually from the 1956 Topps set and that its $5 price tag made this card a huge bargain.  I had diligently studied pictures of all the 1956 Topps cards within my copy of Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection and I recognized this card as one of the two league president cards that kicked off the set.

My guess is that the dealer at the card show had no idea this was the first card from the 1956 Topps set.  According to my checklist from right before we purchased this card, the "book" value for this card was $60 in 1988, given that it was hard to track down a copy without rubber band marks around the sides.  My original set checklist shown here was pain-stakingly created on my Commodore 64 and I then took a ruler to add the pencilled lines around each number.  In the summer of 1988, when I wasn't down at the shore, I'd spend hours each week studying the price guides, reviewing my checklists and looking at pictures of the set in my Topps book.  It was a good summer.

The Card
At 75 years old, Harridge is by far the oldest person featured in the 1956 Topps set.  I'm sure kids finding this card in their packs back in the day weren't thrilled to pull a card of a guy who resembled Woodrow Wilson.  I've always liked that the back of the card features the logos of the then eight American League teams.  As is the case with all of the first 180 cards from the set, this card can be found with either a white or a gray back.

Topps reproduced this card as the first card in its 1956 Topps-themed 2005 Topps Heritage set.  I've always wondered what made the Topps folks decide to dedicate two cards to the league presidents and not the Commissioner of baseball at the time, Ford Frick.

1956 Season
Harridge was two years away from retirement during the 1956 season, as he'd step down from the American League's top spot in December 1958.

1957 Topps #100
1958 Topps #300
2005 Topps Heritage #1
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #1
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #1
Last Topps Card:  1958 Topps #300
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2012 Panini Cooperstown Bronze History #97/599

26 - Harridge non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 10/13/15

Sources:  
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

5 comments:

  1. Love the blog format. The thing I'm looking forward to the most is the personal stories involving your father and you're off to a wonderful start.

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  2. Thanks Fuji! Lots of great stories and lots of great memories.

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  3. How cool that you kept track of where and when you got each card and for how much. I wish I had that type of discipline as I can tell this is going to make for some interesting reading. This is one of my favorite sets and I am looking forward to following this blog!

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  4. I just found your blog. I am really looking forward to it. The first cards I ever pulled from a pack was 1975 at age 8. I collected through 82. Chasing girls got in the way by 82. I sold everything around 1990. But about a year ago I got back into the hobby. I just yesterday finished the 72 set. I am almost done with 68,70 and 71 sets. I will then have every Topps set from 68-82 minus the 69 set. I really wanna start the 67 set as it is my birth year but the high numbers that year are so costly. I think the 56 set is my favorite. I am trying to decide on my next set between 56 or 67.

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  5. Hi Brian. Glad you found this! I should be back to posting semi-regularly here once the regular season winds down.

    I'm currently working on the 71 set, and that would give me a full run of sets from 70 to 16.

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