Obscure Card of the Month: 1927 Ogden ABC of Sport Umpire Card

Here’s another tobacco card depicting the tough life of an umpire

The 1927 Ogden ABC of Sport set is a unique tobacco card issue from across the pond. It’s a pretty cool set that I’ve become accustomed to and the idea is that a different sport is represented by each letter of the alphabet. There are a few exceptions. For example, one card for yachting represents both Y & Z — Y for yachting and Z for zest. There are some reaches, too, such as the ‘X’ card, which is represented by ‘Ex-Athletes.’ But you get the general idea.

The set has a lot of minor sports in it and no real athletes are pictured. But some, including cards for boxing, golf, and tennis, among others, cover pretty popular sports. It was distributed for Ogden’s Cigarettes, one of the UK brands that had numerous trading card sets.

Hands down, my absolute favorite card in the set is the one for the letter ‘U.’ The ‘U’ card is one of those exceptions because it’s not a sport that is depicted. Rather, ‘U’ stands for umpire.

As I’ve written in the past, there are several cards that show that umpiring was a tough life. This is certainly one of those.

Pictured here is an umpire being chased by angry fans. Said fans are throwing all sorts of objects at the umpire as he tries to make a fast getaway. Those objects include, but are not limited to, rocks, a bell, a bottle, and maybe food. Part of the allure of the card is that it doesn’t necessarily depict a certain sport. Many American collectors will see a baseball umpire. But internationally, perhaps it’s viewed in another way.

The back of the umpire card, like others in the set, has a short poem:

U is the umpire, whose fateful decision is greeted with obloquy, mud and derision. (He sometimes takes refuge inside the Pavilion when the threats of the “gate” grow a trifle vermilion!)

There’s just something about these sorts of comical, old time sports images that I love. Many folks chase pre-war cards for Ruth, Cobb, and the like. And that’s fine — I do, too. But there’s so much more to the pre-war landscape and a lot of very cool cards are out there just waiting to be noticed. Count me as someone that loves this card.

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