1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders Eddie Cicotte / Jack Thoney
This was a spur of the moment pick up off of eBay earlier this Summer, and one that was better than the image supplied with the auction. The colors really pop on this card that was inserted into packages of Mecca Cigarettes, which was a brand under the American Tobacco Company.
The 1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders was also the first issue in which two players shared the same card. On the front was one player, and on the back, the top half of another player’s picture appears. The concept of the doublefolder was that this image can be folded and flipped over onto the legs/torso of the front-image player. The rest of the back shows statistics for both players. There are a total of 50 cards and 100 subjects make up a complete set, that in contrast to the T206’s or T205’s, are generally less expensive to obtain.
What also struck me with the T201’s that I learned after the fact, was it was the first time statistics could be found on the backs of cards. Any prior tobacco releases to this point had carried advertising for various products. This set was also the forerunner to Topps’ own doubleheader issue released in 1955. Obtaining a Red Sox player in that series is on my to-do-list!
Before I loop back to the title of this post, I’ll visit one Jack Thoney who adorns the rear of this beautiful card. On Opening Day in Boston, April 14 1908, he recorded the first out (fly ball) during the first game the team played as the Red Sox (they had changed from the Boston Americans in December the year prior). Then as the leadoff man, walked, stole second base, reached third on a sacrifice, and scored on a passed ball — the first time a player wearing a Red Sox uniform scored a run.
Bullet Jack Thoney was once called “the unluckiest player in the history of baseball.” Boston Red Sox owner John I. Taylor had paid what was thought to be the most money ever paid for a player at the time, but it seemed as though every time Thoney made a major-league team, he broke a limb.
Jack played for the Red Sox over the course of three seasons, or 148 games to be exact with 1908 his only “healthy” campaign. 1909 was a lost year as he had a bout with malaria and then broke a bone in his right leg near the ankle in June. Jack lost all of 1910 when — I kid you not — slipped on a banana peel and broke and dislocated his right shoulder while heading to spring training. Making a comeback that season, he threw his shoulder out again.
So what about “The man who wore three Sox” depicted on the front of this card. Cicotte was one of baseball’s most effective pitchers in the second decade of the American League but is today best remembered for being banned from baseball as part of the Black Sox Scandal for his alleged involvement in fixing the 1919 World Series. He won at least 11 games in each of four seasons as part of the Red Sox rotation, during which he feuded repeatedly with team owner John Taylor. Cicotte purchased by the Chicago White Sox halfway through the 1912 season. It was said that Eddie decided to partake in the fixing of the World Series over a feeling of being underpaid compared to similar quality pitchers. During the Black Sox trials, he did admit to accepting cash from the gamblers, but denied he didn’t do anything on the field to jeopardize his team from winning. However, he did plunk a batter and had a couple of horrendous throwing errors in which the White Sox lost two games.
In the end, Eddie Cicotte wore Red, White, and infamously … Black Sox.