Card of the Day: 1912 T202 Deacon Phillippe/George Gibson

Today’s Card of the Day comes from a set that is still popular 109 years after it was released. The 1912 T202 set, which is also known as the Hassan Triple Folder set, has three cards on one, though they are much more valuable when the three cards remain connected. They were meant to be folded and that’s just what people did with them, so it’s tough to find them in great condition. It’s a set that contains many popular Hall of Famers. This card doesn’t have any Cooperstown residents, but it still has some name power, especially if you appreciate the players from the first World Series champs in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Today’s Card of the Day has cards of pitcher Deacon Phillippe and catcher George Gibson, as well as a center card that depicts another great player from the era.

Here’s the front of the card:

These two players can also be found with a different middle panel that features someone who would soon join the Pirates, outfielder Mike Donlin. While they don’t identify the third baseman in this picture, the guy sliding is Hal Chase, a star player of his era who is known more now for reportedly gambling on baseball, which got him banned from the majors after he was already done as a player.

Chase is one of the most interesting players as far as the stat defensive WAR is concerned. He was rated as the top first baseman of his day, and even though he accumulated 30.8 WAR on offense during his career, his defense was considered to be his strong suit. Despite that, he rates as one of the worst defense players ever with a -15.3 dWAR. The first response of any of his contemporaries who saw that stat would be to assume that negative numbers are good in that category. For reference, Dick Stuart has a -12.8 dWAR and Derek Jeter has -9.4 dWAR in their career, two players universally recognized as being the worst at their position during their era.

Anyway, the side panels, showing Phillippe on the left and Gibson on the right, are very similar to their T205 cards. They’re missing the gold border and the team logo up top, otherwise it’s the same card on the front. The T205 set was produced a year earlier than this set, so it was easy to just reuse the design, while making a card that looks completely different. I think the thing that holds this set back from being more popular is the size of the card being non-standard. I have just one for that reason. I wanted one as a type card, but they’re not easy to store compared to other cards of the day.

As a somewhat side note, Topps put out some T202 tribute cards in 2003 and called them Topps 205, which basically meant that they were using the T205 design, except that they were actually using the T202 design. I have no idea why they didn’t call them Topps 202. It’s not like T202 cards are inside knowledge to vintage collectors only.

The backs aren’t much different from T205 cards either…

Here’s the back of the card:

The back has three separate stories. The ones for Phillippe and Gibson have the same write-up as their T205 cards, but Gibson had stats on his card, while Phillippe didn’t. Phillippe pitched just three games in 1911 and didn’t play in 1912, so his inclusion in this set was more of a tribute than anything else. I like the bio of Chase mentioning how rare players sliding headfirst was during this time, but it suggests that is was much more popular in earlier years.

Hassan advertised on the back of T205 cards, though their logo/ad looks different on those cards. Some of these side panels were removed years ago (I’m hoping no one is dumb enough to do it now) and those cards are sold separately, with some people referencing the T205 similarities in their auction title for more exposure. The cards are worth much more in one piece.

This card isn’t extremely difficult to find, as long as you’re not comparing it to modern card populations. Some older cards are very difficult to find in an auction setting, as in you might have to wait a while for one to show up on Ebay. Right now this card can be found both graded an ungraded on Ebay, but your options are limited. A PSA 4 is for sale for $580. There’s a PSA 3 for $480. An ungraded version that was folded in half (right down the middle of the center panel) is going for $119, with a best offer option. The best price might be one graded SGC 80 (which is equal to a PSA 6). The price on that is $450, less than the price of a card graded three grades lower. It also has a best offer option, so the price would be even lower.