A Collection of Misfits: 10 of the Scariest Cards You’ll See on Halloween
Here are ten of the worst cards in my collection
I don’t set out to collect cards in terrible condition. And if I’m being honest, while I’ve got a lot of low-grade stuff, I’ve got a lot of stuff that’s in good condition. I even pursue high-grade cards in occasion if it’s something I really like and don’t want an image that has damage to it.
But as a set collector, I’ve also come to accept the fact that taking low-grade cards is part of the deal. Frankly, some of the cards I’ve bought have been the only example I’ve seen for sale. Others are expensive cards that would cost an arm and a leg if they weren’t beat up.
I was sorting through my collection of online scans and wanted to highlight some of the worst cards I could find, figuring that Halloween was the perfect time to showcase some scary looking cards. Here they are in no particular order.
Joe Tinker E90-1 American Caramel
Technically, this is not one of my worst looking cards. It’s bad but I’ve got far worse. This is Joe Tinker’s card in the popular E90-1 American Caramel set.
What is unique here is that the card has a set of very spaced out small holes along the right side. Also there are some ruler markings.
I wasn’t quite sure what happened to this card until I posed the question on Twitter. I got a bunch of responses but the one that seemed to fit the most is that the card was run through a sewing machine of sorts.
Upgrade Potential: I’m not stressing to upgrade this card, really. It’s in the E90-1 set I’m working on and given that I’ve still got about 30 cards to go, I’ve got bigger fish to fry.
My guess is that this card won’t get upgraded for some time, if ever.
Pie Traynor 1933 DeLong
Before I really forced myself to stop, I was getting pretty deep into type collecting, trying to find as many cards from as any different sets as I could.
I love the 1933 DeLong set and, given more time/resources, it’s probably one I’d try to build. But with so much other stuff going on, it’s not in my sights.
Still, I wanted to find a DeLong and this one popped up on eBay for $20, which is very reasonable for a DeLong Hall of Famer, regardless of condition. The funny thing is that the seller was actually in a collector group I am in. I didn’t know it was him selling it and once he saw I was the buyer, he shot me a message.
Bottom line, he sent me the card for free and refunded my Paypal payment. I had to include this card here just for the story alone.
Upgrade Potential: Given I’m not collecting this set, I can’t imagine this card would ever be upgraded. It sits in my binder as a single type card for now and that probably won’t change.
Ray Demmitt and Bill O’Hara St. Louis T206 Cards
About four years ago, I completed a 520-card T206 set. My initial goal was to get to 518 and then call it quits. But the two St. Louis rarities of Ray Demmitt and Bill O’Hara fell into my lap and I couldn’t help but buy them.
It’s hard to get these cards in even decent low-grade shape for under $1,000 but with each of these missing a corner, I did significantly better than that.
I found both on Net54 within days of each other, if I recall correctly, from different sellers. Both were raw at the time but I graded them because of their rarity and because I didn’t want them to get damaged further.
Upgrade Potential: I’d love to upgrade these two cards if I could. Given the costs to do so, I don’t know that it will happen anytime soon but knowing I can then flip these and sell them to make up most of the cost, I expect I’ll eventually do it.
Ed Karger E90-1 American Caramel
Another brutal E90-1 American Caramel card in my near set is this one of Ed Karger.
Karger is one of the tough cards in the set and I had to scratch and claw for this one that still managed to cost about $35 or so. That was a bit of a bargain, even, considering that low-grade ones can easily run over $100.
You just rarely see this card offered for sale and the current PSA population report that shows only 24 graded to date given you an idea of how rare it is.
Upgrade Potential: I’d love to ultimately upgrade this card. I don’t know that I’d be thrilled to pay over $100 for another one as Karger is a pretty inconsequential player. But it is a nice looking picture and one that I’d like to have in better shape.
Plus, my goal is always to get rid of the worst cards I have in a set and Karger is definitely one of those for me.
Mickey Cochrane/Charlie Gehringer 1935 Goudeys
There are two cards here and there’s good reason for that — because there’s a story behind them.
When I built the 1935 Goudey set last year, I found a really awful looking card of Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane and Charlie Gehrigner (along with Billy Rogell and Tom Bridges, who are also on the card). I don’t mind low-grade but this card (left) had Cochrane’s face torn completely off. Essentially it was a Cochrane card but did not even picture him, which was kind of ridiculous.
I told someone in the collector group I mentioned above this tale and he informed me he had a replacement I could have if I wanted. The card also had paper loss but at least had most of Cochrane’s picture on it. You can debate which card is technically better but I was more pleased with the one he sent me (right).
Upgrade Potential: Since I got his card, I’ve since upgraded again to a more respectable one without paper loss.
Frank Pytlak 1938 Goudey
I got the crazy idea of doing a Goudey run, consisting of their 1933-38 sets after I completed the 1936 Goudey set a while back. I finished that one then finished 1935, and I am now slowly working my way through 1933, 1934, and 1938. The 1938s aren’t for everybody but I mostly think they’re fine.
I’m moving pretty slow on these and really only pick the cards up when I can find them at low prices. I got this one for only a few bucks from a seller offering a bunch of 1938s.
This card of Frank Pytlak is absolutely hideous. It is heavily creased/separated in the middle and also at the top, which has been taped. Then there’s the cutout outline of the top of his body. Best I can tell is that someone tried to duplicate the 1930s Batter Up cards, which were a pop out type of card.
Upgrade Potential: Given that Pytlak is a common, I will almost certainly upgrade this at some point for my set. It’s pretty brutal and if I wasn’t working on the set, there’s no chance I would have bought it.
Charles Nungesser W513 Strip Card
Charles Nungesser is one of the several pilots in the W513 strip card set. I’ve built the W512 and W513 sets and am missing only two cards now (Babe Ruth and another more famous pilot, Charles Lindbergh).
A while back, I bought an uncut strip of W513s that had cards I needed in my set. Nungesser was at the end of the strip and had a large chunk of his card missing. So much of it is gone that it’s really more like 2/3 of a card but it remains until I get a better one.
Upgrade Potential: Like the Pytlak, Nungesser is generally regarded as a common. And since it’s in a set, my guess is that it will eventually be upgraded.
Cy Young T205
Close your eyes and hide the children. This one of the ugliest cards of Cy Young you’ll probably ever see.
A few years ago, I completed the T205 set. Young was one of the first of the big cards that I bought and it’s because I got it at a great price, paying something like $100 for this card. It’s one of the few times I bought a raw card of this magnitude that I then slabbed.
I didn’t have the card graded because of authenticity concerns since I knew it was real. Rather, it was in such terrible shape, I wanted to prevent it from further being damaged.
Just a very, very rough looking card.
Upgrade Potential: Upgrading Hall of Famers these days gets tougher because they just get so expensive so quickly. Still, I am definitely hoping to upgrade this one at some point to a better low-grade example just because it’s tough to look at.
Schoolboy Rowe 1930s Diamond Stars
Like the DeLong set I mentioned earlier, the Diamond Stars is another 1930s set I love. Unlike the DeLong set, I’m actually working on this one.
Similar to what I’m doing with the Goudey cards, I’m moving pretty slowly for my own tastes on this one as it isn’t a priority. But when I find them cheap enough, I pounce.
I got this one from a seller that had several similar cards with significant paper loss. This is one of the worst ones.
Upgrade Potential: I mean, I’d probably upgrade this one if I had the chance. But the Diamond Stars are a lower priority than even the Goudeys for me so it would really have to be a case of right card, right time. This is a rough card but I mostly couldn’t care less.
Mike Donlin T207
Recently, I wrote about pursuing low-grade cards for an issue of Beckett’s Vintage Collector magazine. In it, I specifically mentioned this card.
If I had to pick one, this might be my ugliest card.
Donlin’s T207 card is abundantly tough and this one is particularly ugly. How hard is it to find? It was available for sale on Net54 and I ultimately passed on it. A year passed before I saw a Donlin T207 for sale again and, surprise, it was this one. This time I took the leap and snagged it. I have no doubt that another has been for sale since then but I haven’t seen it.
The card has all kinds of paper loss on the front but it’s better than not having the card at all.
Upgrade Potential: I will absolutely upgrade this card if I can find another at a decent price. But given its rarity, it may be quite a while before that happens.