Rare postcard featuring a team photo of the 1908 Reading Pretzels, a Class B minor-league club of the Tri-State League. Fourteen team members are pictured posing together in front of the grandstand, the most important of whom is future Hall of Fame third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker. Each player is identified in print along the base by means of a corresponding number printed upon his respective image. The caption along the base reads "Reading Tri-State Base Ball Team 1908. The only writing on the reverse is a brief black-ink notation that reads "This is the banner team of Reading town." While it is known that Baker received his famous nickname of "Home Run" Baker following the 1911 World Series, he could easily have earned it with Reading. Baker hit .299 for the club that season with a team-high six home runs. That number becomes all the more impressive when one learns that the rest of the Reading team combined to hit only thirteen home runs. Baker's prowess at the plate certainly impressed A's manager Connie Mack, who purchased Baker's contract in September and had him finish the season with the Athletics. Baker's short nine-game audition went well enough that Mack handed him the starting third baseman job the following year. This is almost certainly the earliest photo of Baker in uniform extant, as his only other season of professional ball consisted of just five games in 1907 with Baltimore in the Eastern League. The postcard (5.5 x 3.5 inches) has been graded FAIR 20 by SGC due to the writing on the reverse, but is otherwise in Very Good condition, with corner wear, light creasing, and a few small, extremely light areas of discoloration near the base. Reserve $300. Estimate (open).
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