‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||R&J Hill Sports Series|
|Size||1 5/8″ x 2 1/2″
|Number in Set
1934 R&J Hill Sports Series Overview
This 50-card set was issued by R&J Hill Cigarettes in the UK. It is a multi-sport set containing tennis, boxing, and other cards. But the highlight of the issue is unquestionably a baseball card featuring Hall of Famer Tris Speaker.
Cards have a sepia tone and a card number inside of a circle on the fronts. Some backs give a biography and state that there are 50 cards in the set. Others, however, state they were issued with London Idol cigarettes.
Speaker’s card is the biggest but he is not the only star here. A boxing card, No. 28, features former champions Georges Carpentier and Joe Beckett. Additionally, five tennis cards are featured – among them, Hall of Famers Bill Tilden and Rene Lacoste.
R&J Hill produced many other card sets as well. Most were of the non-sports variety but they also produced a 1939 sports set. None of the four major American sports were included, however.
Despite some other interesting cards, however, Speaker is clearly the attraction, even though his career had passed by this point.
Tris Speaker Card
Speaker is featured on the lone baseball card in the set at No. 48. Speaker is featured in the batting box as a hitter. Though his name does not exist on the card, the picture features him.
The back of the Speaker card discusses the national game and its inability to become popular elsewhere to that time:
“America is the home of Baseball, where it is exceedingly popular. The sport, however, has not penetrated to any great extent in other countries, although occasional exhibits of the sport are given elsewhere.”
One interesting note is that the image in this set is the same one used for Speaker in the 1915-16 Obsequio de Susini issue (another international set) produced nearly 20 years earlier.
That description was moderately true. However, the sport had grown considerably in Japan by the time of production of these cards. Japan had its first professional baseball team in 1934 that played against American teams.
Japan had actually been playing baseball since the 1800s and while the country did not have its first professional league until 1936, the sport had been played professionally there since the 1920s.