Cheap T206 Cards of Hall of Famers

Although the Honus Wagner card is easily the most famous card in the legendary T-206 set, virtually every notable player of the era appears among the 523 (524 when including the notorious Doyle variation) cards. Cobb, Mathewson, Young, Johnson and Speaker are the most recognizable names to the average fan, but there are also a handful of Hall of Famers in the T-206 set who, for a variety of reasons, remain comparatively underrated by historians and undervalued by collectors.

Napoleon Lajoie T206 card One such example is Nap Lajoie, who played second-base for both the Athletics and Phillies prior to serving as a player-manager for Cleveland, where he was so popular that the team adopted "Naps" as their nickname. Lajoie was a true superstar of the era, highlighted by his batting average of .426 in 1901, the all-time AL mark. For his career, "The Frenchman" compiled a .338 batting average (tied for 18th best all-time), and collected 3,252 hits. During his career, he was considered on a par with Cobb, and the two routinely battled for the AL batting crown.

Lajoie has three different poses in the T-206 set.  You can find a Good condition example (PSA 2 or SGC 30) which is generally respectable, for around $175—not bad for a superstar from a set that’s more than 100 years old.  The shot of Lajoie at bat goes for around $200-225 in the same grade while the portrait image brings $175-225.

T206 Wille Keeler battingAnother frequently overlooked member of the set is "Wee" Willie Keeler, who occupies the 14th position in career batting average (.341). Keeler, who stood only 5'4 and-a-half and weighed 140 lbs., is credited with perfecting the bunt as well as being one of the innovators of the hit-and-run. Keeler's 44-game hitting streak in 1897 was the standard until Joe DiMaggio's 56-game streak in 1941.  Keeler has one portrait and one very nice posed shot showing him with a bat on his shoulder.  Each sells for under $200 in Good (PSA 2 or SGC 30) condition.

Jack Chesbro T206In the "modern-era" (1901 to present), Jack Chesbro's 41 wins in 1904 set the major-league record, and his 51 games started with an astonishing 48 complete games the same season are also modern-era benchmarks. "Happy Jack's" big-league career lasted only from 1899-1909, during which he played for the Pirates, the New York Highlanders (later to become the Yankees), and the Red Sox. His career saw him go 198-132 in wins-and-losses with a 2.68 ERA and 1,265 strikeouts.  Chesbro’s T206 card is a simple head shot (no cap).  You can find one in lower grade for less than $100.

TAddie Joss T206 pitchinghe undisputed star hurler for much of Lajoie's Cleveland-era period was Addie Joss, who at 6'3 was an imposing figure on the mound during the early 1900s.  He has a portrait and an action pose in the set.  The image that shows him pitching is more common and can be found for under $100 in Good (PSA 2 or SGC 30) condition.  Joss has the second-lowest career ERA (1.89) in history, and he threw 45 shutouts among his 160 career wins. Joss also tossed two no-hitters and the fourth perfect game (1908). One of the better-educated players of his era, Joss studied engineering at the University of Wisconsin. Tragically, Joss died at age 31 from tubercular meningitis.

All four of these Hall of Famers certainly made significant contributions to "America's Pastime," but their card values continue to remain almost obscenely under-valued when compared to many of their contemporaries. Addie Joss, in particular, given his undeniable greatness, barely commands three figures, while Chesbro's card values are in a similar range. Keeler and Lajoie bring slightly higher numbers, but overall remain strangely affordable considering their accomplishments. Perhaps the short careers of both Chesbro and Joss are factors, but both Keeler and Lajoie's careers were both lengthy and relatively free of "legacy-diminishing" slumps.