Christopher “Christy” Mathewson was one of the premier pitchers during the ‘deadball” era, posting stats that to this day are among the tops in baseball’s record books.
Throughout his career, “Matty” was considered not only one of the best pitchers in the game but someone that epitomized what a star baseball player should be.
Christy Mathewson’s baseball cards, even over 100 years after his retirement, remain red hot.
Here, I take a look at the top baseball cards of Christy Mathewson, providing collectors with more information on the cards, along with overall investment potential and scarcity.
A Look Back At The Career Of Christy Mathewson
Christy Mathewson was born on August 12, 1880, in Factoryville, Pennsylvania.
Mathewson was a multi-sport star athlete at Bucknell University, excelling at baseball, football and basketball.
The NY Giants of the National League bought Mathewson's contract in 1899 for $1500, but after bombing early on in the major leagues in 1900, the Giants were not happy with their investment.
The Giants ended up trading him away to the Reds, but reacquired him shortly thereafter.
Mathewson soon got back on track in his first full season in the big leagues in 1901, posting a 20-17 record with a 2.41 ERA and 221 strikeouts.
'Matty' posted an incredible 373 wins for his career, with a 2.13 ERA, 79 shutouts, and 2507 strikeouts.
He won the World Series as a player with the Giants in 1905, in a playoff performance that ESPN called "the greatest playoff performance of all time". Mathewson pitched three complete games and two shutouts in only six days.
"Mathewson was the greatest pitcher who ever lived. He had knowledge, judgment, perfect control and form. It was wonderful to watch him pitch when he wasn't pitching against you." - Connie Mack.
Mathewson was sometimes also referred to as the "Christian Gentleman" as he was a devout Christian and refused to pitch on Sundays as a testament to his Christian beliefs.
His fate would soon turn following his retirement from baseball, when he enlisted with the US Army in 1918, leaving his post as manager of the Cincinnati Reds, joining the "Gas & Flame" division.
The unit was made up of current and former ballplayers ,with Ty Cobb even joining the ranks following the finish of the 1918 baseball season.
Shortly after arrival, Mathewson was gassed during a training exercise, which would lead to him developing tuberculosis.
"One day the drill erupted into chaos. Several men – including Cobb and Mathewson – missed the signal to snap on their masks. Cobb finally managed to get his mask on and groped his way to the door past a tangle of screaming men and thrashing bodies. “Trying to lead the men out was hopeless,” he said. “It was each one for himself.”
Mathewson passed in 1925 as a result of his illness. He was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, as one of the first five members, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson.
Our Top Picks - Christy Mathewson Cards
Best Budget Card: 1920 W520 Strip Card
Best Long Term Investment: 1911 T3 Turkey Red
Best Buy (If Money Is No Object): 1908 Rose Co Postcard
Twenty Best Christy Mathewson Baseball Cards
1902 W600 Sporting Life Cabinets - Christy Mathewson
The W600 Sporting Life Cabinets issue was issued continuously from 1902 through 1911 and feature black and white photos of players on thick cardboard, measuring 5" by 7-1/2".
Many of the early cards show the players in street clothes, however, later issues feature players primarily in their uniforms.
As shown above, is Mathewson’s "uniform" card; below is the 'street' version, which is also the same image used for the E107 Breisch Williams card.
Whatever the version, the W600 cards are tough to find - PSA has graded less than ten total copies between the two Mathewson cards.
1903 E107 Breisch-Williams - Christy Mathewson
The 1903 Breisch-Williams set (cataloged as E107) is a landmark set and is considered to be the first major baseball card set of the 20th century.
The cards are also super rare, with PSA grading ~200 cards out of the entire 159 card set.
Mathewson's E107 card features the same dapper photo of "Matty" as used on the W600 Sporting Life card.
Unfortunately, the card is completely unattainable for most of us, with the last sales of years past exceeding six figures at auction.
1908 Rose Company Postcard - Christy Matthewson
The 1908 Rose Company Post Card Set is one of the least familiar sets in the hobby, but in my eyes, it's one of the most beautiful sets in existence.
Set on a green background with a metallic gold embossing, the set features large portraits of over 200 baseball players set on a diamond with two small player action poses on the bottom of the card.
The set is quite rare; PSA has graded only 93 cards in the set and the Mathewson card in the set has only been graded three times by PSA.
The last PSA Mathewson sale happened back in 2020 for a PSA 5 copy, selling for an impressive price at over $18K dollars.
As of this writing, a PSA 3 Mathewson card is up for auction over at The Collector Connection.
1909 E101/E102 Anonymous - Christy Matthewson (misspelled)
As far as Matty cards are concerned, this beautiful horizontal pose set on a colorful, sunset background is most certainly the best overall design of any Mathewson card.
So, I list the E101 and E102 Anonymous sets here, which are identical, but the same exact image can be found on the E92, E105, E106 sets. I think each issuer just couldn't resist this photo!
The good thing is that the widespread availability across different sets makes it somewhat easier to find than some of the scarcer issues.
There isn't a huge premium for any specific issue, for some there might be maybe, but I'd say if you are pinpointing one of these beauties, just find the nicest one you can from any of the sets.
Note that all of the horizontal poses for the "Christian Gentleman" misspelled his name as "Matthewson" a trend that would be repeated quite commonly across many of his cards.
1909 E90-1 Anonymous - Christy Matthewson
The E90-1 set is often referred to as the 'Caramel Monster' for its larger size (118 cards), star power, and fairly easy availability.
The E90-1 American Caramel Christy "Matthewson" card features a different portrait than many of the other previous year's cards. In this one, we get Matty in mid windup, fronting a really cool colorful background.
The card is not rare, but I wouldn't exactly call the supply plentiful, but scarce enough to make it a solid longer term investment. As shown below, there is a good enough supply in lower grades to be able to find the card at auction.
I'd say this is a good one to target for budget oriented collectors seeking to own a nice Mathewson card.
1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel - Christy Matthewson
This is the first set issued by the Philadelphia Caramel Company, and out of the 25 cards in the set, there's a ton of star power, including "Matthewson" (yep misspelled again), Wagner, Cobb, Evers, Chance and Collins.
The set is somewhat attainable as well, making it another good option for collectors seeking a more affordable, yet somewhat rare caramel card of "Matty".
1909 T206 White Cap/Dark Cap Christy Mathewson
Mathewson has three cards in the legendary T206 set, this card here is known as the "White Cap" Mathewson, and there is an alternative variation with Mathewson wearing a 'Dark Cap".
The "White Cap" variation is a lot tougher to find between the two cards, with nearly half of the graded population as the "Black Cap" variation.
The White Cap card has a slight premium but not a significant amount. Notably, Mathewson's Portrait T206 card is the most valuable between the three.
1909 T206 Portrait Christy Mathewson
The T206 Portrait card of Mathewson is one of the more desired HOF cards from the legendary "Monster" White Borders set.
Not necessarily rare, but high collector demand for the card, has led to a big bump in value for the card.
1910 E103 Christy Mathewson
Whereas many of the other candy and caramel sets of the era had varying background hues, the E103 Williams Caramel set only has one background - Red. The E103 Mathewson card uses the same image from the M116 Sporting Life card.
However, super hard to find, the M103 Mathewson card has only been graded ~20 times by PSA, thus, expect to pay a premium for the Williams Caramel Mathewson card.
1910 E98 Anonymous Set Of 30 Christy Mathewson
The E98 Anonymous Set of 30 was produced by an unknown issuer in 1910, and shows a checklist of the 30 cards on the back of the card.
The image is common across the E-UNC Candy Mathewson card, and the 1910 E125 American Caramel Die-Cuts.
1911 M116 Sporting News Christy Mathewson
In 1910, Sporting Life, a popular sports newspaper of the time, offered its readers an opportunity to get baseball cards produced by the company.
The baseball cards were the typical shape of other tobacco issues of the day and featured white borders and similar poses to the infamous T206 set.
The M116 set is an undervalued gem, especially if we look at the population report for the cards graded by PSA.
The M116 Mathewson card has two variations, one shown above and another with a blue, pastel background. PSA has only graded ~120 copies in total, which is only a fraction compared to the T206 Matty cards.
1911 D304 General Baking - Christy Mathewson
One of the hobby’s most coveted early baking card issues, this Christy Mathewson card is from the rare D304 General Baking Co. series.
The cards were issued from 1911 to 1914 with loaves of bread and are often referred to as the “Brunner’s Bread” collection.
These cards are scarce, as many never made it past the dinner table.
PSA has graded less than twenty Mathewson cards.
1911 T205 Gold Borders - Christy Mathewson
The T205 Set in general is often overlooked, especially in contrast to the famed T206 set. While some prefer the white bordered T206 set, the T205 cards are beautiful in their own right. The striking gold borders and colorful backgrounds make for a very popular set with vintage collectors.
The Mathewson T205 Card is rarer than his three T206 cards, based on the PSA Population reports.
1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders - Christy Mathewson
The T201 Mecca Double Folders set is a unique offering; if the card is open one player is shown and when folded it shows another player.
Many of the star names in the set such as Mathewson are valuable, just not on par with other tobacco cards from the era.
1911 T3 Turkey Reds - Christy Mathewson
The T3 Turkey Red cards are one of my favorite vintage sets of all time. What I find to be the most appealing feature of the set is the fact that the images (for the most part) are identical to their T206 counterparts, yet in a beautiful over-sized lithograph. The cards are actually scarcer than the T206 and T205 cards, and in my opinion undervalued comparatively.
The Mathewson card shows a full color portrait of the same image used for his White Cap and Dark Cap T206 baseball card.
The card is not cheap, so expect to spend several thousand even on a lower grade copy.
1911 T202 Hassan Triple Folders - Christy Mathewson
New collectors might not be familiar with the T202 set, but the T202 set is an underappreciated gem for us old vintage folks.
The T202 set features a three card panel, with two colored portraits (replicas of T205 portraits) on the ends and a black and white action photo in the middle section.
There are many different card combinations across the set, and Mathewson is a part of several other variation cards with varying end players, including Meyers, Fletcher, and Devlin. There are also different center card variations.
1914 Cracker Jack #88 - Christy Mathewson
Cracker Jack cards ( designated as E-145 in the American Card Catalog ) were issued in boxes of Cracker Jack, replacing the regular toy prizes that had begun in 1912.They were inserted in boxes next to caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts, so condition issues are quite common, notably staining from the caramel.
The 1914 set consists of 144 cards, while the 1915 issue contains 176 cards. The backs of the 1914 and 1915 cards are identical, with the minor difference being that the backs of the 1915 issue are upside down.
The fronts of the cards in each set are identical except for one exception. Christy Mathewson (card #88) has two different illustrations used for the two sets; his 1914 card shows Mathewson in a throwing pose, whereas his 1915 card (also #88) shows a portrait illustration of Mathewson.
1915 Cracker Jack #88 - Christy Mathewson
The 1915 Cracker Jack Mathewson card is a beautiful portrait based on the image used initially in the W600 Sporting Life card.
Expect however, to spend a small fortune on the 1914 or the 1915 Cracker Jack cards. The last PSA sale of a 1914 Cracker Jack Mathewson sold for nearly $150K.
1920 W520 Strip Card - Christy Mathewson
The W520 set is a slightly smaller issue (1 3/8″ x 2 1/4″) than the W519 set of the same year. There are 20 different numbered cards in the complete set.
Many people wince at the ugliness of strip cards, but I like this Mathewson for some reason, and given its affordability and relative scarcity, I like it as a longer term investment.
PSA has graded only 13 copies, but it should be noted that the W522 set was also issued in 1920, with the cards sharing the same basic design and player list as the W520 set.
Investment Potential For Christy Mathewson Cards
Christy Mathewson was one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball. Bill James has him ranked as the seventh-best pitcher of all time, although some debate believes he should be ranked in the top five in the company of all-time greats such as Cy Young, Satchel Paige, Walter Johnson, and Lefty Grove.
Although pitchers historically haven't garnered the same premium as big-time hitters, Mathewson's name gets lumped in with the all-time pre-war greats, such as Ruth, Cobb and Wagner.
Even young collectors want to own the 'Christian Gentleman' cards, as his legend has remained true, even more than 100 years following his exit from baseball.
Thus, I would expect that Mathewson's cards remain an excellent long-term investment, especially his cards that have a more limited supply, notably his early playing day caramel and tobacco cards.
For collectors, I suggest finding the cards that speak to you the most within your budget and have relatively limited supplies.
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