Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day is our second visit to the 1911 T201 set. I went into detail about these cards ten months ago when we looked at the card that features Tommy Leach and George Gibson. Purely by coincidence, today’s card has a great connection to that one, besides the fact that they were all players for the 1909 World Series winning Pirates.
On this date in 1912, the Pirates traded Leach and pitcher Lefty Leifield to the Chicago Cubs in a deal that did not work out well. Check today’s This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History article for details. Gibson was the starting catcher for the Pirates, while one of his backups was Mike Simon. So today’s card intertwines the catching tandem and the two traded players from 110 years ago today. We look at the T201 Mecca Double Folders card of Albert “Lefty” Leifield and Mike Simon.
Here’s the front of the card:
The cuts on these cards can be wavy sometimes so I cropped this particular scan a bit, otherwise you would have had the black background showing in three of the corners. It’s just slightly bigger than what you see here, but I didn’t cut anything important, just an extension of the background. These cards didn’t have the best artwork. Most players in the set look generic, where you couldn’t tell it was them if there were no other clues. This particular pose of Leifield is a quite famous one for him, used on other cards, so this is one I might be able to guess, even though the sweater and hat aren’t Pirates colors. Those socks are Pirates colors from the time, so that would be a giveaway. You see his last name only up top, which was standard back then. First names rarely made it onto the fronts of early cards, and it usually happened when someone else had the same last name.
Here’s the back of the card:
Poor Mike Simon is forever upside down on this card, though it wasn’t meant to be that way. You can see a fold line in the middle here, at the top of his photo (bottom in this scan) and what is supposed to be the back of the card, which gives you some stats (we will get back to that) and the Mecca advertisement on the bottom. If you folded the Simon part of the card backwards, it would cover up the top half of Leifield and Simon’s body would match up to his legs. Basically, mid-thigh down here is both players, even though the front gives the appearance that it’s a full picture of Leifield.
The back tells a story of the differences between these two players. Simon was a glove-first catcher, though if you look at his career hitting stats, you need to remember that he played during the deadball era, so they aren’t as bad as they look. Leifield was a very good pitcher for quite some time, compiling 124 wins in his career. He had a season in which he posted a 1.87 ERA in 255.2 innings, and then he won 20 games the next year. Notice that they only show stats for Leifield on this card. Simon had stats in 1910, yet they just say that he was a utility catcher. As a fun side note, the backup catchers back then were often referred to as the change catchers, with change meaning a difference from the original, not that they were catching change/money. What is funnier about the stats split is that they used hitting and fielding stats for a pitcher. The only pitching stat there is the second Per Cent (interesting old spelling of percent), which is from his win-loss record (15-13).
One other quick observation. Notice they use the spelling of Pittsburgh for the player photos are Pittsburg for the back. These sets came out in the year that the town changed back to the original Pittsburgh spelling, so both could be correct.
If you’re interested in this card, there are probably more options on Ebay than you think. There are ten listings for this card, plus two people are selling reprints for a few bucks each. The highest priced one is priced poorly, with an asking price of $325 plus shipping for a PSA 4. You can choose from two PSA 5 cards that are going for $185 and $207 delivered. There’s also a PSA 4.5 for $140, with a best offer option. You can also get a nice ungraded one for $68, and a low grade (ungraded) for $38 delivered. Whatever you do, happy collecting!