Photo: 1911 M101-2 Sporting News Supplement Bob Harmon of the St. Louis Cardinals, from my own collection.
First, I had a helluva time getting this picture into my computer, as it would only scan as a .pdf, and then wouldn't load into this software for this website. I had to scan it again, CONTROL + ALT + PRINT SCREEN, save it into Paint, then crop that, then save that as a jpeg., then bring it to this page. I don't know if you can see the big size of it like you could my other cards written about here. If someone knows of a better way around this for me--or how I can make my scanner not scan larger images as a .pdf, please comment here and let me know. Or send me an email, if you'd prefer. I appreciate it!
Anyway, I saw lots of these images up for bid on ebay from PWCC, where I get a lot of stuff. I've heard of these before, but had never seen them. The inages were striking, and I saved them all from my Watch screen on Ebay before I deleted them from it when the bids climbed too high. In good condition, these can go for hundreds, and a good condition HOFer, like Ty Cobb, can bring crazy prices. I really wanted a Jake Stahl one of these, and I forget why I deleted it. I didn't know much about the cost and value of these, and this one climbed over $30, so I backed off. It was one of the best shots I saw, right up there with Clark Griffith standing on the dugout steps, and Connie Mack standing in his suit. Truly awesome pics, but they got really expensive. If only I were rich.
So this one of Bob Harmon is ripped in the lower left corner, as you can see, so it cost me only $9.50. The shipping was $12, but when I won other cards (some Ted Williams and Clementes and a few others), those were only $.25 more after that, so it averaged out to $1.15 for each of the 13 (yes, I know it's crazy) items I got.
These very large photos are not considered cards, per se, as there were actual Sporting News cards published after these supplements proved popular with the public. The photographers must've been amongst the best of their time, because these images are all classically striking. I wish I could've gotten them all. Unfortunately, this is the only one I got.
These supplements were just that: included in issues of The Sporting News between 1909 and 1911, which in itself looked more like a newspaper than a magazine, just like it does today. They were often folded, which is not considered a detriment to their value, but they are extremely thin and therefore very fragile. Mine would've sold for over $30 had it not been a little torn, and Bob Harmon was just a common player.
He was a tough-luck pitcher who could've done much better, or much worse. He led the league in 1911 in game starts, earned runs and walks, but finished 23-16 with a 3.13 ERA and was 14th in the MVP voting. His WHIP was a bad 1.35, and he walked more than he struck out, so this was a rather lucky season. His luck would not last, though, as he went 13-17 and 16-17 for Pittsburgh a few years later, but with ERAs of 2.53 and 2.50. He had losing records every year and spent 1917 out of the majors, but returned with Pittsburgh in 1918 and had the best WHIP of his career, a very good 1.06--though he still walked more than he struck out. He finished 2-7 that year, which proved to be his last.
His career record was 107-133, with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.3 WHIP, but only gave up 1,966 hits in 2,054 innings. If he could've found the strike zone a little more often, he may have been one of the best, because they couldn't often hit him.
But, then again, had he been much better, I wouldn't have been able to afford him.