Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Listen Mister, No Man Alive Can Throw Harder Than Smokey Joe Wood"

There are a variety of similar quotes attributed to Walter Johnson, part of the lineage of great fireballers, which indicate that Smokey Joe Wood was the hardest thrower of them all.  The quotes are similar to the title of this post.  Wood was a star of the day and best known for his 1912 season where he went 34-5 and won three additional games in the World Series.  Smokey Joe never scaled those heights again after breaking his thumb.  However, did reinvent himself as an outfielder for his friend Tris Speaker's Cleveland Indians in the 1920s, showing the breadth of his skills.

Smokey Joe was also the manager of the Yale baseball team and a regular around Fenway Park into his 90s.  Given Wood's fame and exceptionally long life, there are countless autographs available from him.  However, when it comes to cards from Smokey Joe's career, there are a real dearth of options available to the collector.  He did not appear in either the T205 or T206 sets, but did make an appearance in the very drab T207 set, which contain monochrome pictures set against brown backgrounds, the T202 set where he shares a card with Tris Speaker, the National Game set and a few others, such as the E121 from when he transitioned to the outfield in Cleveland. 

Since getting back into collecting cards, one of my goals was to acquire a period Smokey Joe Wood card.  Given their limited availability and the legend of Smokey Joe Wood, his period cards tend to have a premium of a Joe Jackson or an upper echelon Hall of Famer, since the desire to own a period Smokey Joe is fairly common. 

A few weeks back, I was able to bid in an auction for a E91-C Smokey Joe Wood.  The E91 series is a set of caramel cards, which have the notable deficiency of using stock pictures with different uniforms.  So, Christy Mathewson just might look the same as Joe Wood except for the name on the jersey.  This limits their desirability, but makes them more accessible.  With a late bid, I was able to win the below card for the price of a blaster.  It has an obvious deficiency in the missing lower right hand corner, but it does give me a period Smokey Joe Wood. 

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Of course, since the picture isn't really him, I am still looking to add a period piece to my collection.  As always with card collecting, it is the journey that matters and the journey which never ends. 

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