Monumental Find! Our April 2015 offering of the “Good Book” 1887 Four Base Hits John Clarkson surpassed six figures and created quite a buzz within hobby circles. Rhetorical questions such as “Do any more Four Base Hits exist?” or “Where is the next Clarkson?” were frequently asked for good reason. To date, only a combined 19 total copies have been judged by either PSA or SGC. So elusive is the Four Base Hits issue that it escaped the far-reaching purview of ACC pioneer Jefferson Burdick and was never assigned a designation. Only the slightly less scarce N304 Yum Yum Tobacco issue and its replicated images provide more details regarding the origin of production. Enter James (Pony) Ryan…
In May 2016, Huggins & Scott was contacted by our New Jersey consignor regarding an heirloom that had remained in family possession for over a century. From generation to generation, a sepia trading card of a baseball player named Ryan was passed down. Beneath his surname was the credo “Smoke Four Base Hits. Four for 10 Cents.” The question had been answered. Great finds still do occur in the hobby as this previous unknown and uncatalogued 1887 Four Base Hits Jimmy Ryan attests! Graded 10 Poor 1 by SGC. The dapper portrait of the White Stockings veteran is entirely crease-free with all advertising, name and position text clearly visible on the thick cardboard foundation. Both the front and back display an expected coating of soiling which does not seriously impact the overall presentation. Two slivers of period tape spanning the left and right edges account for the technical grade.
Cooperstown still may yet call Jimmy Ryan nearly a century after his passing in 1923. The 18-year veteran amassed 2,513 career hits, a lifetime .308 batting average and was considered a preeminent slugger during the “dead ball” era. His career statistics are comparable to enshrined contemporaries including Jesse Burkett, Fred Clarke, Roger Connor, Hugh Duffy, Joe Kelley and Jim O’Rourke. The winning combination of subject and desirable set gives this nineteenth century find unlimited future potential.