Joe Stanley, Allegheny Game Co. 1904: A true one-of-a-kind (making it a true rarity). The company planned to make what would have been the first ever baseball card game--but it never went into production. All that remains are the single cards for the prototype and I nabbed one. These card games, produced by others, became popular and were the main forms of baseball games until the spinner and dice types arrived.
Wildfire Schulte, t206, 1910 Okay, you may have heard of Tinkers to Evers to Chance but who the hell else was on that Cubs team? Here is one, none other than outfielder Frank "Wildfire" Schulte, a terrific player in his own right. Led the league in HRs, a couples times, batted .321 in several World Series, etc. In fact, a second card for him of this issue, a back view (which I also have) was the card at the center of a rathe mediocre Matthew Broderick/Alan Alda film.
Cool story today in The New York Times on "Prince Hal," from the original New York Yankees, one of the most gifted players ever--also a cheat, who threw games, and had "a corkscrew brain." Eventually banned.
Chief Bender, t205 1909: As I've noted, these cards came in two styles: plain portraits for National Leaguers (see Christy Mathewson below) and these more lively artistic mash-ups for those in the AL. Back in those days, practically any player with Indian heritage got the nickname "Chief." Bender was one of the great hurlers, headed for the Hall of Fame, and is sometimes credited with inventing the slider. He attended the same Native American school that spawned Jim Thorpe--Carlisle--and faced discrimination throughout his career, though credited with being one of the smartest and nicest players ever.
Billy Nash, Mayo's Cut Plug, 1895: The level of photography had taken a big step up since the Old Judge day and these also featured an unusual and quite striking black border. Nash, by the way, couldn't hit but was good enough to start at third base for many years and, I believe, he still holds the career record for errors. However: His fielder's glove back then was not much bigger and thicker than your oven mitt.