A Look at the T207 Rookie Card of Buck Weaver
The rookie card of Buck Weaver is one of the keys found in the T207 set — and I think it’s a bargain
A while back, I wrote about the perceived Big Three of the T207 baseball card set. But in terms of collector interest, one card might surpass all of those — and that’s the rookie card of the troubled Buck Weaver.
Now, Weaver’s card doesn’t seem to be as difficult to find as those cards (Louis Lowdermilk, Ward Miller, and Irving Lewis). And for that reason, those crazy enough to take on a build of the entire set might not treasure it as much. But for collectors merely interested in the bigger names of the T207 set, Weaver’s card is arguably the most sought after, even if players like Walter Johnson and Tris Speaker were Hall of Fame talents.
Issued in 1912 by the American Tobacco Company, the card is the legitimate major league rookie card of Weaver, whose career began that year. Weaver batted a career-low .224 that season but still managed to play the entire year, getting a healthy 523 at bats. The team’s patience on him would be rewarded as he hit nearly 50 points higher the following season (.272) and then would become an even better hitter at the end of his career.
That career, of course, would end abruptly. Weaver is not said to have participated himself in the 1919 World Series fix where his White Sox threw games for money. But he did know about it and that decision led to being banned for life along with seven others. That’s led to a lot of demand for his cards.
Weaver, it should be pointed out, does have more valuable cards. In particular, he has several 1911 minor league cards with Zee-Nut, Pacific Coast Biscuit, and Bishop & Company (Weaver also has a 1911 Obak card but that is far more common). But those are minor league issues and not technically rookie cards, even if produced sooner.
Save for maybe the T212 Obak, his T207 cards are easier to find. However, the T207 card is not exactly commonplace. It is in the tougher Broadleaf/Cycle subset and to date, PSA has graded only 40 examples.
The front includes a really nice batting pose of Weaver in his White Sox uniform. I think that’s a critical part to its value — that Weaver was a member of the White Sox as a rookie and not some other team. Collectors wanting Weaver cards almost always want them to either fill a hole in a set or because of the 1919 scandal with the White Sox. I think that he’s pictured as a member of the White Sox really adds to the allure of this card. Eddie Cicotte cards are certainly desirable. But I think that his earlier cards with the Red Sox could be even more desirable if he was pictured as a member of the White Sox.
The back calls him ‘Smiling’ George Weaver (appropriately, he’s smiling on the card) and talks a little about his minor league career. The ‘Buck’ nickname is nowhere to be found. The back references that he is not necessarily a great hitter, only conceding he is ‘steady.’ Weaver would with time, however, become a very good hitter. He batted .284 in 1917, .300 in 1918, .296 in 1919, and a career best .331 in 1920, his final year before the ban.
Funny thing — the card is, like most things, on the move. You could previously buy very low-grade examples starting around $500 not too long ago. These days, those cards are closer to a $800-$1,000 when you can find them and that seems harder by the day. You just don’t see very many for sale and I think that’s because some collectors are holding onto them a bit more. Now, that’s not a terribly cheap card. But frankly, given what other Black Sox cards have been doing, I think there’s an argument for the card being a bit undervalued, despite the recent climb in value. When Black Sox strip cards and later candy cards are selling for hundreds, I’m a bit surprised that this Weaver card remains somewhat of a bargain.
That point is driven home a bit when you consider the totality of the card. First, it’s a tobacco issue, which is generally the most desirable ‘type’ out there. It’s ultimately a pretty rare card, as evidenced by the pops. And while the T207 set is not as popular as T205 or T206, it is clearly in a mainstream set and not some off-the-wall issue. But maybe most importantly, it’s a rookie of one of the more sought after banned players.
Weaver may not technically have been as important or as valuable as star pitcher Eddie Cicotte, another banned player. But aside from Shoeless Joe Jackson, he’s arguably the player that collectors most want. That Weaver’s rookie can be purchased for so little makes it somewhat of a bargain in my eyes.
I also view it in the lens of looking at Jackson’s rookie card in the 1909-11 E90-1 American Caramel set. No, this is not a plea that the Weaver card should be on par with that one. Even though the American Caramel card is far more plentiful, Jackson is a holy grail of sorts for collectors and he was a superior player. But that card has shot up in value with even very low-grade examples topping five figures these days. Modest low-grade examples have sold for $20,000-$30,000 recently. What that card has done is nothing short of incredible. So while it is understandable that Weaver’s card has not reached those heights, I do think it is a bit undervalued given the meteoric rise that card has been on by comparison. Even if that doesn’t make sense to you, my primary point is that I think there’s good value in Weaver’s rookie — especially with starting prices of less than $1,000.
Am I predicting this card goes up more in value? Nah, I don’t do that. It’s a dumb observation and, more accurately, an opinion. And other than having one in my T207 set (a low-grade one, no less), I’ve got no skin in the game. But given the value of other Black Sox cards and the demand for Weaver stuff, I think there’s room for that card to grow.