Ranking all 30 of the E96 Philadelphia Caramel Cards

Recently, I ranked all 25 of the 1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel cards. I figured I’d take a look at the 1910 E96 set, which was a virtual continuation of that issue.

With that said, here are all 30 of the E96 cards ranked.

As usual, this ranking is based on player star power, the picture on the card, and my own willy nilly attitude. Leave your arguments in the suggestion box.

The Non-Factors

No. 30. (tie) Frank Arellanes, Jim Delahanty, Red Dooin, Ed Karger, George McQuillan, Mike Mowrey, Red Murray, Jack Pfiester, Claude Rossman, Tubby Spencer, Ira Thomas

E96 18 Arellanes

Unlike the E95 set, which produced a blatantly horrible card for Art Devlin, there are no real obscenities here. Some of the pictures aren’t great, per se, but none are utterly ludicrous as that one is.

For the most part, these guys are your run of the mill players with little star quality. Because of that, they’re all getting lumped together as the undesirables, shall we say.

All fine guys, mind you. Just nothing that really separates them from the pack.

Some produced some notable achievements such as winning World Series’ or leading the league in a few categories. And sure, some were better than others. But in general, the players weren’t great and neither were the pictures.

Overall, these are the bottom feeders in the set. There isn’t much better about any of these cards than the others, despite the fact that some were markedly better performers. If we get too far into the weeds with this, we’ll be tied up in an hour-long debate whether Red Dooin was better than George McQuillan.

And that’s no bueno.

Of minor note is that we’ve got a couple of typos here. Both the names of Frank Arellanes and Jack Pfiester are misspelled. That wasn’t too uncommon for those guys as their names were misspelled on other issues, too.

A Little Intrigue

No. 19. Ed Konetchy
No. 18. George Mullin
No. 17. Babe Adams
No. 16. Johnny Kling
No. 15. Chief Meyers
No. 14. Bill Donovan
No. 13. Nap Rucker
No. 12. Harry Davis

E96 13 RuckerThese next group of guys won’t cost you much more than the others below them on the list. But a few can bring slight premiums at times.

Harry Davis was a legitimate star, leading the league in home runs four times. Donovan and Mullin were two great pitchers for the Detroit Tigers. Konetchy was a reliable bat and Meyers is notable for being an early Native American player. Kling wasn’t a star baseball player but draws interest because of also being a great billiards player.

Rucker makes this group no so much for his career but because his pose has an interesting picture. In it, he appears to be tossing his glove – something I’m not sure I’ve seen on another pre-war card. Well, either that or starting into his windup – another somewhat unique shot.

What is he doing? You be the judge.

Adams also gets a slight bump for his picture, which is slightly better than the ones in the last group. That, combined with appearing on two World Series winning teams is enough to move him up a little.

Again, not much of a premium here but this group is a little more interesting than the last.

First Hall of Famers

No. 11. Hughie Jennings
No. 10. Mordecai Brown
No. 9. Rube Marquard

E96 14 Jennings

These guys are all Hall of Famers so it’s difficult to slot them much lower. All are enshrined in Cooperstown but none were first-ballot guys by any means.

Jennings had a more notable career and there are scores of people who don’t even believe Marquard should have gotten in at all.

Brown had a dominant six-year period, winning more than six games in each one. Twice he won at least 25 games and in one of those years, he led the league in wins with 27. Brown also led the league in a slew of other categories during his career, including ERA, saves, shutouts, games, and innings. His 1906 season was one of excellence as he went 26-6 with a league-best 1.04 ERA while also leading the league with nine shutouts. Hard to argue that he didn’t belong in Cooperstown even though he didn’t get in right away.

Marquard’s card is mostly appealing with a colorful sunset-type of background. Brown’s is only kind of ‘meh’ with an awkward pose. Meanwhile, the picture of Jennings (one that was used in several sets) is just an awful depiction and one where he appears to be wearing lipstick. That feature was one found on a lot of cards but in this one, it’s even more appalling because it’s such a close-up shot.

Style Points

No. 8. George Gibson
No. 7. Red Ames

E96 27 AmesE96 25 GibsonThese rankings are about the picture on the cardboard as much as they are about the names. So while Gibson and Ames weren’t particularly good players, they move up my list just because their cards have some fantastic photos.

Gibson’s image is somewhat rare as a full-body catching pose. While catchers are often featured in sets, obviously, it’s somewhat unusual to see one in full gear in a full-body action picture. Gibson is in a follow-through motion and it’s a spectacular picture.

Similarly, Ames’ picture is noteworthy, too.

Ames was only a so-so pitcher that lasted a long time in the majors. His 183-167 career record don’t jump off the page, but prove he was good enough to pitch a lot of games. He led the league in saves twice but also led the league in losses in 1914. Kind of a mixed bag. But there’s no denying the great picture on his card. It’s a vertical card but the artwork is at sort of an odd angle and it features a large wind-up.

How great are these pictures? Good enough to get the cards into my top ten.

Ooh, a Horizontal

No. 6. Buck Herzog

E96 29 HerzogEver in the middle of something and then something else catches your eye and you lose all train of thought? That’s sort of how I am with horizontal cards in primarily vertical sets. I’m a sucker for a good horizontal card. I suppose that helps explain why I have Buck Herzog so high on this list. Herzog’s post is the only horizontal issue found in either of the Philadelphia Caramel issues.

One minor thing but nice touch is that his name is displayed at the bottom of the long edge on the card. That isn’t always the case as some horizontal cards displayed the name at the bottom of one of the short edges, making it awkward to read when the image is viewed, as intended, horizontally.

As far as his career, Herzog wasn’t a great player but he was good enough to stick around for 13 years with a .259 career batting average. In 1916, he had the unfortunate distinction of leading the league in being caught attempting to steal bases, so that’s kinda bad.

His New York Giants teams also lost all four World Series in which they appeared and he had a bad stint as a manager. But, man, that picture.

More Hall of Famers

No. 5. Home Run Baker
No. 4. Nap Lajoie
No. 3. Joe Tinker

E96 23 TinkerHome Run Baker and Joe Tinker both squeeze into the top five. Overall, they’ve got some interesting poses and were both Hall of Fame players. Lajoie makes it here, too, sandwiched in between the two.

Baker is pictured with the Philadelphia Athletics in that unique striped hat. It doesn’t have the same effect as the one depicted in Chief Bender’s E95 card since that was a close-up but it’s still a nice touch.

Tinker’s card is easy on the eyes, too. He’s pictured in a nice batting pose with plenty of detail, considering some of the other cards in the set. Great batting stance, great uniform, great player. Easy combination to make the top five.

Finally, Lajoie’s card is a nice one. It’s a familiar portrait we’ve seen in other sets and the rendition could probably use some work. But I don’t think it’s a terrible card and Lajoie was one of the most underrated stars of his day.

I honestly like all three of these cards.

It’s Clark Kent … Er, Fred Clark(e)

No. 2. Fred Clarke

E96 24 ClarkIn the E95 article, I lamented the horrendous spelling error on Christy Mathewson and used it to drop his card significantly in the rankings. As I wrote then, though, that was mostly because he was one of the best players of all-time and a typo on that important of a player is just hideous.

Repeating my earlier sentiment, errors can actually be kind of nice as long as you’re not butchering the name of someone like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. Now, Fred Clarke, was a star, no doubt. Hall of Famer, actually. But he’s not on the same plane as those other guys so his card, which reads ‘Clark’ here isn’t nearly the faux pas it could have been. I’ve always liked it, to be honest.

But that alone doesn’t get his card here. As stated, Clarke is a Hall of Famer and, more importantly, this is a great freaking picture.

Clarke is shown squaring up to bunt on this unusual card. Now, bunting is hardly ever called out on old cards. When it is, it often makes for a great shot. But the really unique thing about this card is that Clark is shown bunting from the front. You never get this kind of shot because, obviously, players were photographed bunting from the sidelines. The only way to accurate get this picture would have been to stand in front of him and that could only appear in a practice or mock situation. You see this on some of the Old Judge cards, I believe, and those were taken in non-game situations.

This picture gives you a pose you would only see as a pitcher, really. Sure, with today’s photography options, it would be less unique. But on a 100+ year old card, it was really sort of a picture you wouldn’t typically get.

The Best

No. 1. Connie Mack

e96-02-mackI came real close to putting Fred Clarke’s card as No. 1. I mean, obscenely close. I love that freaking card, man. But in the end, there’s one card that’s even better.

Connie Mack was solely a manager by the time this set was produced. While other players also took on managerial duties on the field (Mack did that, too, earlier in his career), Mack was only managing by this point.

Managers that weren’t playing were rarely featured in most sets. Especially sets that were limited in size and could only include so many players. But somehow Mack made it into the set and it was a great choice. Perhaps Mack was included because he was Philadelphia’s manager and the Philadelphia Caramel company was in nearby Camden, New Jersey. Whatever the reason, including him gave this set a huge boost.

At the time, Mack hadn’t won a World Series. But in 1910, the year the set was produced, his Athletics won it all. He would go on to win three World Series titles in four years, starting with that one.

If you look at the card, you shouldn’t need me to tell you why it’s so incredible. It not only features the only manager in both sets, but it’s a great picture of Mack. He’s pictured in a portrait pose wearing his customary suit and tie. It’s just a fabulous shot made better by the stark red background.

In addition, another oddity of the card is that his is the only one that lists his full name. All players have only their last name printed but Mack’s full name is shown below his picture.

Finally, as a manager, Mack didn’t have a ton of cards issued. This one is one of his more popular issues and a great decision was made to get it into the set. Hands down, it’s the best card. It’s not only the best card in this set, it’s arguably one of the best caramel cards of all time.

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