How important is this "card" release? Pretty darn important! This is one of the few card releases around the dawn of the twentieth century. This was produced between 1904 and 1906. Although most indications point to early 1906. This release, which was part of a game, is one of the few between the late nineteenth century tobacco cards and the ever popular T206 tobacco set.
It features players from the beginning of the American League that either wouldn't be around for the T206 cards or would be on different clubs by then. This is a cornerstone set from a time that rarely produces cards or even images of some players.
Since this is such an important card set, I will present images of each White Sox card produced. There were five cards of the White Sox, but technically six cards featured White Sox players. Confused? Let's dive in!
1 - Nick Altrock
1903-1909 White Sox - Pitcher
24 - Ducky Holmes
1903-1905 White Sox - Outfielder
26 - Frank Isbell
1901-1909 White Sox - Infield/Outfield/Catcher/Pitcher
29 - Fielder Jones
1901-1908 White Sox - Outfield
49 - Doc White
1903-1913 White Sox - Pitcher
This set is riddled with errors, mostly of the spelling variety. One error has been a mystery for over one hundred years. That is the mystery of Billy Owen of Boston. There was no Billy Owen playing in the early twentieth century. The closest that organized baseball has ever produced was Billy Owens. The only problem with that is he played from 1992-1998 and never made it past AAA. That would be almost a century too late and he too was never affiliated with any Boston organization.
So who is Billy Owen? That's a great question! One that has been eating away at collectors for awhile. In fact, the website Baseball Games took over a year to research the mystery and has come up with a definitive answer.
38 - Billy Owen
(Frank Owen) 1903-1909 White Sox - Pitcher
Billy Owen is none other than Frank Owen of the Chicago White Sox! It is theorized that the original notes were partially destroyed, so that when the cards were printed, the printers had to fill in some of the first names.
The cards themselves look absolutely gorgeous. There are great details in the photographs. If there weren't so many little errors in the set, this would be one of the premier releases of the early twentieth century.
There is a great reprint set that beautifully reproduces the backing color and the details portraits that make this such a wonderful set to look at. Will the card companies be pillaging this design for their ill gotten gains? Probably. That's fine by me, if they put the work into the details of the photos and the design. They can skip the errors.