I almost used Nolan Ryan along with CC Sabathia in my “workhorse” post about Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn. I think I found a much more unique comparison for this post. Hope everyone likes these – they’ve been fun to put together; I’ll have about 10 or 11 total.
Let me start by saying I preferred to have Charles Comiskey as my highlighted 1887 card here. Before becoming the infamous owner who was so cheap his players fixed the 1919 World Series, Comiskey played for 13 seasons, as a First Baseman and manager for the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. He amassed over 1500 hits and played in 4 of the early World’s Series as the Browns won 4 straight AA championships. Everything I’ve seen says that he has a card in the Gypsy Queen set. This would be most appropriate – a card of a future owner, just like Nolan Ryan.
But I couldn’t find a picture of it, so I went with a card of Comiskey’s owner during his days with the Browns. Chris von der Ahe bought the Browns in 1882 and moved them to the newly formed American Association. Like Comiskey and Bill Veeck after him, von der Ahe was the first owner who was as much the story as his players. He was an innovator, setting ticket prices lower than the NL games, in hopes that he’d make up on beer and food sales. When the Browns won the American Association for the first time, he decided to erect a statue outside Sportsman’s Park. He didn’t pick a statue of one of his star players; instead he built one of himself. Von der Ahe’s fall coincided with that of the American Association. After the Association folded in 1892, he signed on for the team to join the National League and changed their name to the Cardinals. But his manager, Comiskey, had gone and the team was regularly in last place. Around the turn of the century, mounting losses forced him to sell the team.
Nolan Ryan is the easy choice here – after 5700+ strikeouts and over 300 wins, he’s the one guy in this set who went on to be a team owner. And, he’s pictured in uniform for the team he would buy. Oh, and I did find a Comiskey card from the Old Judge Set. The Gypsy Queen card he has is likely of the same picture.