Al Bridwell (With Cap) - 1909-1911 T206 White Border

The 1909 to 1911 T206 baseball card set has long been considered one of the most, if not the most, important issues in the entire hobby. The visual appeal of the cards, the immense size of the set, and the incredible player selection make this treasure a collector favorite. Along with the 1933 Goudey and 1952 Topps sets, the classic T206 set is one of “The Big Three” in the world of baseball cards.

You can easily make the argument that “The Monster,” as it is commonly referred to, is truly the pinnacle of all trading cards sets. It is much larger than the 1933 Goudey set, requiring more than twice the amount of cards to complete. It is also arguably more visually appealing than the 1952 Topps set due to the superb artwork used in the design.

Furthermore, the 524-card T206 set is home to the most valuable trading card in the world, the card that has become the symbol of the hobby itself. Of course, I am referring to the Mona Lisa of trading cards . . . the T206 Honus Wagner. The Wagner card shares the limelight with 75 other cards featuring members of baseball’s Hall of Fame, but it is worth more than the other 523 cards combined, assuming they are in the same condition. At the time of this writing (2009), the highest price ever paid for any trading card was $2.8 million, a Wagner example that was graded NM-MT 8 by Professional Sports Authenticator, the leading third-party authentication and grading service.

The Wagner card is so desirable that even low-grade copies that receive only a Poor 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 (the lowest possible grade on the PSA grading scale) have fetched $400,000 at auction. The card, like the set itself, has taken on a life of its own and become an iconic collectible. While Wagner was a true legend of the game and one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history, the card depicting this Hall of Fame member has certainly surpassed the man himself in terms of fame.

Yes, the T206 set may be the most significant release in hobby history. Yes, Honus Wagner was one of the most significant players ever to put on a uniform. Yes, after being pulled from production early on by the manufacturer, only 50 or so examples of this card are known to exist, making it one of the true rarities in the trading card world. All of these facts may be true, but the reason why the T206 Wagner has reached such lofty heights in value is the story behind the man and the card.

The most prevalent misconception about this great card is that it is the rarest of the rare, resulting in its staggering value. What may come as a surprise to most casual collectors or even noncollectors is the fact that the T206 Wagner is not nearly as scarce as some other notable trading card rarities. The number of surviving copies is only part of the story.

There is more than one theory behind the rarity of the card, including a simple contract dispute theory. Many people believe Honus Wagner wanted his card pulled from production because Wagner, though an avid user of tobacco himself, did not want to promote tobacco to children since the cards were packaged with various brands of cigarettes. Knowing what we now know about the dangers of tobacco, especially as it relates to cigarettes, this stance taken by Wagner over 100 years ago becomes all the more interesting.

As with most other great collectibles, such as autographs, game-used equipment, and original photographs, the stories behind the items make them interesting and desirable. Every collectible, in its own way, is a conversation piece. How were these cards distributed? What makes this game-used bat special? Why did Babe Ruth sign this particular document? Every collectible has a story.

This is also true of every figure the collectible relates to, and that is what makes this particular book different from so many of the published hobby guides released over the years. If Honus Wagner were a relatively unknown player, would his T206 card carry the value it has today? No. If a Mickey Mantle game-used bat was instead used by Mickey Vernon, would it be worth anywhere near the same amount? No. Would a baseball signed by Jackie Robinson and one signed by Jackie Jensen be valued the same? No. I think you get the point.

Above all, it is the story behind the person that drives the majority of the value. Otherwise, it may be just a card or just a bat or just a ball. More often than not, it is the sports figure’s name that makes the collectible special. This book takes a look at each individual pictured on the cards, from superstars of the day like Ty Cobb and Cy Young to lesser-known major and minor leaguers like Clyde Engle and Bill Cranston. Each player has a story and each player contributed to the game . . . and all of them are part of the “monstrosity” known as the T206 set.

Today, we see virtually everything and know almost everything about current players, both on and off the field. In some cases, I would argue that we are presented with too much information, but this is the culture we live in today. With the immense sports coverage on television and the multitude of Internet sites devoted to sports, it seems as if the modern athlete cannot move a muscle without being caught on camera.

We do not have that luxury when it comes to learning about baseball players who were active during the early part of the 20th century. We often have to rely on period photographs and statistical information, at least whatever statistics can be found, in order to paint the picture of a time long past, to tell the story of the players who made history before history was documented on film after every pitch, every swing, and every catch.

That is what this book is all about, the story behind each man found in this legendary set, men who put on a uniform during a time when the equipment was a bit crude and the game wasn’t plagued by performance-enhancing-drug controversies. The game of baseball, no matter the era, is a terrific sport. Somehow, it is complicated yet simple at the same time. Its combatants must use almost equal combinations of brain and brawn in order to defeat their foes, perhaps more so than in any other sport.

Like the game of chess, every move has an impact on the outcome. For the astute fan, there are many games within the game that go unnoticed by the casual spectator, but it is all part of what makes baseball so interesting. The subtle communication between defenders as they position themselves before each hitter, the tension between a base runner trying to steal a base and the catcher trying to stop him, and managers trying to outthink each other on every play are all part of the complicated dance known as baseball. Complexity defines the sport, and that term may best describe the iconic T206 set.

- Joe Orlando: The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories

Albert Henry “Al” Bridwell

Born: January 4, 1884 - Friendship, OH
Died: January 23, 1969 - Portsmouth, OH
Batted: LH
Threw: RH
Position: SS
Career BA: .255

Teams:
Cincinnati Reds NL (1905)
Boston Beaneaters/Doves/Rustlers/Braves NL (1906–1907, 1911–1912)
New York Giants NL (1908–1911)
Chicago Cubs NL (1913)
St. Louis Terriers FL (1914–1915)

Al Bridwell was a steady player who could do a little bit of everything. In 1907 Bridwell led all shortstops with a .942 fielding percentage, and in 1911 he had the least strikeouts per at bat (18 K’s). His best offensive year was 1909, when he batted .294 with 140 hits, 55 RBI, and 67 stolen bases. Bridwell’s claim to fame is that on September 23, 1908, he hit the single off pitcher Jack Pfiester that started the play that became known as “Merkle’s Boner.” After two seasons in the renegade Federal League, he moved to the Southern Association to play for the Atlanta Crackers. He was player/manager of the Texas League’s Houston Buffaloes in 1919, and then managed the Rocky Mount Tar Heels in the Virginia League in 1920 and the Spartanburg Pioneers in the South Atlantic League in 1921. He retired when he was 37 years old.

– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories


Click link to see a complete population breakdown by tobacco brand/back

Condition Census (Explain)

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
2 NM+ 7.5
3 NM 7 (7)

AUCTION PRICES REALIZED

Date Price Grade Lot # Auction House Auction/Seller Type Cert
08/14/2014 $916 7 445 SCP Auctions Summer Premier Auction 2014 Auction 02059953
01/04/2018 $587 7 391952239074 eBay timeman21 Auction 09024814
04/10/2018 $536 7 382427768799 eBay probstein123 Auction 09024814
10/27/2018 $552 7 343 Goldin Auctions October Legends Closing October 27,2018 Auction 11236172
03/12/2017 $185 6 351995713252 eBay pwcc_auctions Auction 01630135
02/24/2019 $203 6 192827653365 eBay lomosports Auction 01630135
12/08/2016 $90 5 272467180818 eBay boston_strong2013 Auction 12169480
07/05/2017 $124 5 352097602772 eBay pwcc_auctions Auction 90170197
10/29/2017 $145 5 292303049387 eBay 111york Auction 11236207
10/29/2017 $160 5 152742450500 eBay banksfan14 Best Offer 90170197
01/29/2017 $46 4 262819047393 eBay sports-cards-forever Auction 02291209
03/12/2017 $51 4 401284760053 eBay pwcc_auctions Auction 30583852
04/10/2017 $48 4 132144691540 eBay gregmorriscards Auction 02291209
01/01/2017 $69 3 41015 Heritage Auctions Sunday Internet Sports Collectibles Auction Jan 1, 2017 Auction 31214639