Denton True “Cy” Young is the most well-known pitcher from the pre-war era. Young’s baseball cards are among the most popular of all players in the early 1900s.
Young’s lifetime baseball statistics are purely staggering, and he still holds records that will likely never be broken, including the most wins (511) and complete games (749).
His impact on baseball was so profound that only one year after his death, the Cy Young Award was established to honor the league’s best pitcher.
Young’s baseball cards have always been in high demand and remain as sought after as some of the biggest names in baseball, including Cobb, Wagner, Ruth, Gehrig, and Mays.
Many of Young’s early cards are somewhat out of reach for vintage collectors, but a handful can still be found at a reasonable value.
Thus, here are five Cy Young baseball cards that we believe offer tremendous value for long-term baseball card investors.
1. 1910-11 (M116) Sporting Life: "Cy" Young
In 1910, Sporting Life, a popular sports newspaper of the time, offered its readers an opportunity to get baseball cards produced by the company.
As noted by the fine folks at Cardboard Connection, there was a lot of competition between Sporting Life and The Sporting News, thus the cards were a ploy to help gain and retain readers.
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.
They were issued over 24 weeks with 24 different series of 12 cards each, leading to 288 different cards. There are different variations of the cards, with both pastel and blue backgrounds, along with three different back variations.
I think the M116 set is an undervalued gem, especially if we take a look at the population report for the cards graded by PSA. There have been only 6,587 M116 cards graded by PSA, while over 225,000 T206 cards have been graded.
There are three different T206 Cy Young cards, with each having about 700 cards graded.
There are 56 (Black Back) M116 Cy Young cards that have been graded by PSA, and only 21 Blue Back Young's.
You can check out the chart below to see how undervalued the M116 Young cards are relative to the T206 Young's.
2. 1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folder: Johnny Kling/Cy Young
The Hassan Triple Folders (known as the T202 set) is a unique set, in that the cards feature three panels--one large center image featuring a black and white game photo, surrounded by two smaller color portraits on the sides.
The cards were issued in packs of Hassan Cork Tip cigarettes, and measure 2 1/4" by 5 1/4". Because of their size, the cards don't carry the same sort of popularity as other tobacco issues of the era, but in all I think the cards offer fantastic value for collectors.
First, the population for the set is much smaller in comparison to say the T206 set. A little more than 10,000 of the cards have been graded by PSA (remember there are over 225,000 graded T206 cards from PSA).
As for the Cy Young card in the set, it features a center image of Johnny Kling (who is noted on the back as "one of the greatest catchers to ever wear a mask") late to a tag on base-runner Hans Lobert.
Kling also has a portrait on the left of the triple folder card, whereas Young has the portrait on the right. Note that not all of the T202 card center action plays feature the players on the outside of the cards.
The T202 Young is a relative bargain compared to other tobacco cards and graded versions in VG condition can be found for under $500. Note that only 122 of the Cy Young/Kling cards have been graded by PSA.
3. 1909 E90-1 American Caramel Cy Young
Now, this is not exactly what I would call a "bargain", as this recommendation is the most expensive card on the list. BUT, i believe if we examine scarcity and demand, that this card warrants a higher value than its current price in the market today.
The easy comparison is the T206 set, which is easily the most in demand and collectible set of the pre-war era. But not too far behind is the American Caramel (E90) set of 1909.
First, when we look at scarcity, only 100 of the Cy Young cards from the set have been graded by PSA. Compare this to an average of around 700 any of the Cy Young cards from the T206 set.
Below is a comparison on population and pricing--we use the Cy Young portrait card from the T206 set, since it is has the highest demand and is the most valuable of the three versions.
Does a card which is about 7 times as scarce deserve only a 20%+ premium? I don't believe so. Granted the T206 set is a landmark set for collectors and it will never lose its luster.
But I think in hunting for value, Young's American Caramel card looks attractive.
4. 1911 T3 Turkey Red - Cy Young #42
One of the more unique tobacco card issues from the era, the 1911 T3 Turkey Reds Cabinet cards have grown in popularity with vintage collectors in recent years.
Produced by the American Tobacco Company, the T3 cards are generally referred to by collectors as 'Cabinet' cards due to their size and thicker stock. The cards were referred to as cabinet cards as the intended use was to show off the cards in one's cabinets.
Measuring 5 3/4" by 8 inches, the cards don't necessarily feel like the earlier cabinet cards produced in the 1800s and early 1900s, mostly commissioned photos pasted to cardboard.
The appeal really comes in the design of the T3 set, as the cards feature beautiful color lithography with a border, making it look like a frame of sorts.
The player's name is printed at the bottom to make it look like a metal engraving on the 'frame'. Getting one of these in a PSA holder is a real treat, as the over-size case and the pure attractiveness of the cards should lead to these maintaining popularity for the foreseeable future.
Less than 100 of the Cy Young cards have been graded by PSA, and if you get lucky, you might find a PSA 2.5 to 3 in the $1000 to $1500 range. If you do, and you're looking for a Young card to hold for the long term, it's a great option.
5. 1909 E101 "Anonymous Set of 50" Cy Young
The 1910 E101 "Set of 50" baseball set is quite similar to the E92 set (Nadja Caramel's, Croft's Cocoa, and Dockman Gum) produced in the same year.
The cards are the same size with the exact same images as the E92 sets. Old Cardboard notes that the poses are also used in the E101, E102, and E106 sets.
While the producer of the cards is unknown, Sports Collector's Daily has confirmed that the cards were used as a promotion by Niagra Baking. In fact, there is a Niagra Baking set (cataloged as D355) which are the exact same cards as the E101 set but with a 'Niagra Baking' stamp on the back.
Okay, here comes the tough part; only 22 of the E101 Youngs have been graded by PSA. But, when they come up for sale, they don't necessarily command a similar premium as some similar issues, probably due to the obscurity of the cards.
A PSA 2 version of the Young card was sold for $500 in early 2018 on eBay, which I think is a bargain. If you find something similar, be sure to snap it up!
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