Your Information Resource for Vintage Baseball Cards
eNews Issue #82 (February 2011)

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Welcome to Old Cardboard, the most complete reference resource for information about collecting vintage baseball cards and related memorabilia.  More information about this eNewsletter and its companion website and magazine are found at the bottom of this page.

1. Updated Auction and Show Calendar
2. "Connie" Marrero: A Cuban Beisbol Legend
3. Latest Additions to the Website
4. Cuba's 1923-24 Tomas Gutierrez (by Ryan Christoff)
5. News Briefs (A Digest of Recent Hobby Happenings)

1. Updated Auction and Show Calendar

The following is a summary of vintage card events coming up in the next 30-45 days. For the most current listings on additional vintage card shows and auctions, see the Key Events Calendar on the Old Cardboard website.

OC eNewsletter Sponsor

February 2011

22Internet 2011 Old Cardboard Texas Hold'em Tourney #2 (details).
24Phone/Internet Collectible Classics Auction (see website for details).
26Phone/Internet Paragon Auctions (see website for details).

March 2011

2Phone/Internet Clean Sweep Auctions (see website for details).
2-3Phone/Internet Legendary Auctions (see website for details).
4-6King of Prussia, PA Philadelphia Sports Card & Memorabilia Show (see website for details).
10Phone/Internet Imperial Sports (see website for details).
11-13Rosemont, IL Sun Times Sports Collectibles Convention (see website for details).
18-20Chantilly, VA CSA Chantilly Show (see website for details).
20Phone/Internet MnM Sportscards Auction #1 (see website for details).
22Internet 2011 Old Cardboard Texas Hold'em Tourney #3 (details).
30-31Phone/Internet Huggins & Scott Auctions (see website for details).

Editor's note: After returning last week from a baseball tour of Cuba, it seemed fitting to focus our two mini-articles in this month's eNewsletter on vintage Cuban baseball. The first (Item 2 below) profiles the career and 1950s cards of the Washington Senators' All-Star pitcher Conrado "Connie" Marrero (now the oldest living Major League player). This is followed (Item #4 below) by Cuban card expert Ryan Christoff's take on a popular and scarce set distributed on the Crocodile Island in the 1920s.

2. "Connie" Marrero: A Cuban Beisbol Legend

For sports fans in the United States, Conrado Marrero, an All-Star pitcher for the lackluster Washington Senators of the early 1950s, was little more than a five-year blip on the timeline of the 20th century baseball.

1951 Bowman (Marrero's MLB Rookie Card)
Marrero's perspective, however, is somewhat different. For Marrero, who in April will celebrate his 100th birthday, his five year stint in the Majors was just a blip in a highly successful baseball career than spanned well over half a century. With the passing earlier this month of the 1937 Dodgers' third baseman
Tony Malinowsky, Marrero is now the oldest of all living Major League players.

Before he was "dragged into the Majors," Marrero had already earned a well established legacy in Cuban baseball, and one of the country's leading pitchers. His brilliant amateur career was highlighted by a memorable win against Venezuela that decided the 1941 Amateur World Championship series in Havana. His stature in Cuba expanded later in that decade as a member of the Havana Cubans of the Florida International League. By then in his mid-thirties he pitched successive winning records of 25-6 (1947), 20-11 (1948), and 25-8 (1949). In the process, he struck out 586 batters while walking only 117.

By 1950 (his first year with the Senators), Marrero had already aged 39 years--among the oldest pitchers in the League. At 5 feet 5 inches tall, he was also the shortest.

Marrero's age and physical stature, however, seemed to work to his advantage, often catching overconfident batters off guard. They seemed to consistently underestimate Marrero's talent and determination. He soon became known for his unorthodox delivery of curve balls, sliders, knucklers and the like.

1952 Topps
Marrero's small stature and showmanship also won him over in the hearts of many fans, while opposing batters often referred to him in unflattering terms. He seemed undaunted, however, by references to him as a "sawed off fire plug" or as reminiscent of a mascot more than a baseball player. HOFer Bob Feller is said to have once described him as "something you'd expect to find under a sombrero."

Despite the razzing, Marrero earned the respect of even the strongest batters of the period. Once after striking out Ted Williams, Williams was quoted in a Life magazine feature about Marrero, saying that Marrero's knuckler "didn't turn around once as it floated up to the plate. I swung and it ducked."

Following Marrero's stint in the Majors, he returned to a successful career in Cuba, starting in the mid-fifties with Havana’s Sugar Kings--an International League franchise. In that role, Marrero several times faced opposing pitcher Satchel Paige. A Cincinnati Reds affiliate, the Sugar Kings represented the last hurrah of Cuban professional baseball in the years immediately preceding the Castro-led Cuban Revolution.

After the Cuban Revolution, Marrero was one of the most prominent players to remain in Cuba under Fidel Castro, thereby providing a link between the old professional Cuban League and the new amateur Cuban national baseball system and its Cuban National Series. He was a pitching coach for several years for the Havana Industriales and was also a roving pitching instructor.

Marrero remains a respected baseball figure in Cuba even today. His portrait is shown on a mural at Estadio Latinoamericano and his birthdays each April are celebrated with fanfare and media coverage. We wish him the very best on his 100 birthday and many more happy returns.

Marrero, his Cuban cigar and yours truly earlier this month
in Havana as he approaches his 100th birthday on April 25
Further Reading. Additional information about Marrero can be accessed from numerous sources online. Among the more interesting that we found while researching this profile are: a Wikipedia biography of Connie Marrero, Marrero's write-up on the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) website, and a June 11, 1951 Life magazine profile of Marrero available on Google Books.

Video of MLB Centenarian with Amazing Memory. While in Havana, our group had the opportunity to visit twice with Marrero to celebrate his 100th birthday. Part of the event was captured in a video (see link below). As background, the person on the left in the video is Kit Krieger, the trip organizer and longtime friend of Marrero. On the right is Clem Axel, interpreter and expert on all things Cuban. Your humble correspondent is behind the lens. In the clip, Marrero, who speaks very little English, is presented with a program from a June 26, 1951 game between the Senators and the Yankees, played in Washington. In that game, Marrero pitched against Yankee superstar hitters DiMaggio and Mantle. He was the winning pitcher, beating Yankee pitcher Eddie Lopat 7 to 3. Although played sixty years ago this summer, Marrero remembers the game in amazing detail--well beyond the facts recorded in the box score in the program.

Video Clip (Connie Marrero's 100th Birthday Celebration; 3 minutes, 52 seconds)

Editor's Note: We are planning a modified and somewhat expanded version of the above mini-article for the Spring 2011 issue (Issue #25) of Old Cardboard magazine.

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3. Latest Additions to the Website

We are continually expanding the Old Cardboard website with more set profiles, checklists and card galleries. Recent (past 30-40 days) additions include:

Set Profiles have been added for:
1909-1940   Sporting News Record Book (original pocket format)

Set Checklists have been added for:
1923-24   Tomás Gutiérrez Cigarettes

Set Galleries have been added for:
1923-24   Tomás Gutiérrez Cigarettes
1925-31   "Postcard-Back" Exhibits (five 4-on-1 cards added to gallery; courtesy Adam Warshaw)

Updating the website with checklists and full set galleries for additional vintage sets is an ongoing project, so check back often to check out the latest additions. There are now many thousands of card images on the website and the list continues to grow. We welcome and encourage feedback with checklist additions, card images, error corrections and suggestions. Please send all input to

In addition to these additions to the Old Cardboard website, we have significantly expanded and refined our eBay Custom Search Links to make finding vintage baseball cards on eBay easier than ever. The results of these searches are continuously changing, so check back often to find the most recent listings.

4. Cuba's 1923-24 Tomas Gutierrez (by Ryan Christoff)

Produced for the 1923-24 baseball season in Cuba, this set consists of 85 cards that were distributed in packs of "Tomás Gutiérrez" brand cigarettes made by a tobacco company named Díaz. While the players in this set all played in Cuba, the company also produced a set from the same time period containing only Major League pitchers.

Printed on typical baseball card stock, the Gutierrez set has the closest resemblance to American cards of any Cuban issue of the 1920's. The cards have a sepia tone to them and feature portraits of players from each of the 4 teams (Santa Clara, Almendares, Habana, Marianao).

The card fronts feature in-uniform player portraits. Printed at top is the player's team; his name and position are printed at bottom. Several team managers, umpires and banners for three of the four teams are also found. Card #84 from the set has never been found and remains unknown.

Thirty-eight of the players from the set are now in the Cuban baseball Hall of Fame. Six cards, including two of Cristobal Torriente, have been honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Others now in the National Hall of Fame are Jose Mendez, Oscar Charleston, "Pop" Lloyd and Andy Cooper.

Page from Accordion Album
The backs are numbered and explain that there is also an album that contains all of the cards (it actually contained all of the images printed on pages that look similar to team premiums). It is thought that in order to receive this album, which was hardbound and of very high quality, you had to first collect the set. Once you completed the set you could then turn those cards in and receive the album in exchange. Most likely, the cards were then thrown away by the company. As a result the individual cards are even scarcer than the album which is itself exceptionally rare. Only a handful of albums are known to exist.

It is interesting to note that the set contains two cards of HOFer Cristóbal Torriente. In Cuba it was somewhat common for players to jump from team to team, even in the middle of a season. Torriente began the 1923-24 season playing for Habana and at some point switched to Marianao. On card #62 he can be found as a member of the Habana team. This same image was also used for his Aguilitas and Nacionales cards in those two sets respectively. But on card #83 he is on Marianao, a card which features an image that can only be found on this card and in the Tomás Gutiérrez album mentioned earlier. The Marianao Torriente card has also been seen in a blank back version although it is unclear how or why it was produced, and whether or not is a legitimate card.

The set also includes the only known cards of several star Negro Leaguers such as Oscar "Heavy" Johnson and Willis "Pud" Flournoy. Flournoy's card has his name misspelled "Floynocht." Ironically, this is the only Cuban issue that does not misspell John Henry "Pop" Lloyd's name.

Some of the images, such as Oscar Charleston or Oliver Marcelle, are unique and cannot be found elsewhere. Others were later used in both the Nacionales and Aguilitas Segundas issues. Mendéz, for example, has the same image on all 3 cards. The set contains 2 cards of umpires as well as 3 cards showing the pennants of Almendares, Habana and Marianao. Why there is no pennant card for Santa Clara is anybody's guess.

The Tomas Gutierrez set has three known back variations as illustrated below:


Black Print

Number Inside Frame
As seen seen from the examples, the "standard" Gutierrez back is printed in brown ink with the card number printed above a rectangular frame line. It is easily the most common of the three.

One variation (middle image at left) follows the exact same design but is printed in black ink. Thirteen examples (representing 12 players) have been reported with this back.

The least common back style (rightmost example) contains the same text as the others, but is printed with the card number inside the frameline and the title "Cigarros Tomás Gutiérrez" omitted at the top of the card.

The Tomas Gutierrez Set Profile is provided on the Old Cardboard website along with a recently added Checklist and Gallery of Cards. An overview of vintage Cuban cards ("Cuban Baseball Cards: The Golden Years 1909-1950" by Cesar S. Lopez) is featured in Issue #22 (Spring 2010) of Old Cardboard magazine.

Additional information about Cuban cards (as well as those from other Latin American countries) can be found at

5. News Briefs (A Digest of Recent Hobby Happenings)

eBay "Top 25" Sellers List Update. Old Cardboard has recently updated the Top 25 eBay auctioneers of vintage sports material and published the updated list linked from the Old Cardboard homepage. Each dealer has been awarded an "Old Cardboard Top 25" recognition. The 25 dealers making the cut are: mwcards, davidbvintage, buythatcard, wvshoebox, kityoungcards, dd9191, joesvintagesportscards, legacysportsrarities, oldbbcards, hyee_auctions, dentom, b-e-collectibles, sportsinvestments, 1oldcardman, darby-s, bagger77, hendersonscards, bbsports, MileHighCard, memorylaneinc, houseofcardsmd, bbcexchange, T206-Holygrailcollector, just_collect, andymadec. We have awarded them with a "Top 25" icon for use on their websites and eBay listings. Be sure to look for these guys when bidding on auctions. They are the best-of-the-best when it comes to selling vintage cardboard on eBay!

Family Ties. Here is a recent note we received from website visitor Rob Silvanic that we thought might be helpful to pass along: "Frankie Silvanic was my great uncle and I am looking for a 1941 Crowley’s Milk card of him." Grand-nephew Rob can be contacted via email or at 518-526-3969.

Cinematography Award. Old Cardboard's own Brett Hardeman has won a Wedding Wire's Bride's Choice award for 2011. Brett has shot/edited some high profile videos in the past year including weddings, corporate events, and even a video for collectors (see Item #2 in our August 2011 eNewsletter). Examples of his corporate and events video production business can be found at Please join me in wishing Brett the best with his endeavor heading into 2011!

Lyman and Brett Hardeman
Old Cardboard, LLC.

Old Cardboard, LLC. was established in December 2003, to help bring information on vintage baseball card collecting to the hobbyist.  Produced by collectors for collectors, this comprehensive resource consists of three components: (1) Old Cardboard Magazine, (2) a companion website at and (3) this eNewsletter. The Old Cardboard website contains more than 500 pages of descriptive reference information for baseball card sets produced fifty years ago or longer.  Each of these set summaries has a direct set-specific link to auctions and a similar link to 's powerful search engine for further research.  The website also includes a Show and Auction Calendar, an eBay Top 50 Vintage Sellers List, and much more.  As a result, the Old Cardboard website makes a great "Alt-tab" companion for vintage card shoppers and researchers.  Old Cardboard eNews provides current hobby news, upcoming shows and auctions, and updates to the website and the magazine.  It is published around the middle of each month.  For a FREE subscription to the eNewsletter, or for subscription information on Old Cardboard Magazine, please visit the website at  If you find this information resource helpful, please tell your friends.  We need your support and your feedback. Thank you.