Pioneer Portraits I: Series Guide








Set Description:

Mort Rogers’ Scorecards, 1871-1872

  • Mort Rogers’ “Photographic Score Cards” were produced from 1871 to 1872
  • Mort Rogers was a professional baseball player of some repute, most notably with the Resolute of Brooklyn in the 1860s, but was perhaps more successful as a professional printer and publisher in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Mort published two early weekly sports journals that concentrated on baseball, The Baseballist and the New England Chronicle
  • With the advent of the NAPBBP, baseball’s first officially professional league in 1871, Rogers combined his love and knowledge of the game, printing business & expertise, connections in the sport and entrepreneurial spirt to produce and sell photographic score cards at games, most frequently and perhaps exclusively in Boston
  • While the debate for which card or group of cards deserves recognition as the very first will not soon be settled, Mort Rogers’ Scorecards are on the shortlist and, at the very least, represent the first numbered series of baseball cards
  • Rogers prominently credits the score cards’ photographs to James Wallace Black, a professional photographer with whom Rogers shared office space at 173 Washington Street in Boston
  • While there has never been an organized effort to catalogue Mort Rogers’ Scorecards, my own research may provide some context into the size & scope of the original series and what survives today:
    • 16 unique players are known to exist in the series – (16)
    • Four teams are represented: Boston Red Stockings (11), Philadelphia Athletics (3), Washington Olympics (2) & Cleveland Forest Citys (1)
    • Many of the cards are likely unique, but seven have two known samples – (7)
    • There are 10 known pose variations among 4 players: Harry Wright (4), Cal McVey (4), Harry Shaefer (3), Dave Birdsall (3) – (10)
    • The same image of Andy Leonard is used on mounts for two different teams as he was traded between seasons: the Washington Olympics (1871) & the Boston Red Stockings (1872) – (the Red Stockings mount was originally made for a Harry Wright image) – (1)
    • 16 players + 7 duplicates + 10 pose variations + 1 player on two different mounts = 34 total score cards known to exist
    • 1 unmounted photo of Sam Jackson from the series is known to exist, presumably having been removed from its scorecard mount
    • Although they have not been found on score cards, there are images and/or pose variations of the Red Stockings’ Ross Barnes, Sam Jackson & Frank Barrows that appear to have been taken within the same photoshoot as the other Red Stockings, suggesting that a greater variety of score cards were planned and perhaps produced than that which survives today
    • Just 9 score cards have survived fully intact in their original gatefold design
    • 25 of the score cards have been cut in half and/or further trimmed to display just the card front or, in some cases, just the player’s image
    • The 34 known Mort Rogers’ Scorecards are likely owned by 5 or 6 individuals and institutions
  • Mort Rogers’ Scorecards measure 3.5″ by 5″ when folded, 7″ x 5″ when unfolded
___________________________________________________________

“The new Photographic Score Card which was introduced to the public in the Boston-Athletic match May 20th, will again be introduced in the Boston-Chicago match, June 24, and a different photograph will appear at every match game during the balance of the season.”

Mort Rogers, May 31, 1871

 

“A new invention in the score card line, and one that is destined to supersede all other such arrangements now in use, made its appearance on the Union grounds in the games of Monday and Tuesday. It is an ordinary large sized score card, with a photograph of some prominent ball player pasted on the outside of each. The whole arrangement is very neat and complete. Mr. Mortimer Rogers, of Boston, and a member of the Boston base ball club party, is the originator of the device.”

Cincinnati Daily Gazette, July 7, 1871

 

“Mort Rogers, of Boston, now with the club, has gotten out an exceedingly neat photographic score card. The series which he proposes to publish, will comprise pictures of every professional ball player in the country, and will make a valuable collection.”

Cleveland Leader, July 13, 1871

___________________________________________________________
 

Ars Longa: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874

  • Inspired by the innovative and rare Mort Rogers Scorecards, circa 1871-1872, the Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874 series features portraits of baseball players and pioneers spanning the era from 1850 to 1874
  • The series includes many of the earliest known and rarest images of the men who organized and played baseball during its nascent stages of recorded development
  • Despite the relative obscurity of most of the subjects in this series, I adore this collection as it represents countless hours of research into the lives of men and origins of the game that I had previously known very little about. The game has a fascinating history, filled with great characters, achievements and drama, and my goal was to tap into that history with this series
  • If you have a desire to collect images of the stars, game-builders, local heroes and forgotten “tenth” men of the game’s earliest days as a profession – the Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874 series is an excellent place to begin
  • Concerning city & team designations, I followed two simple rules:
    1. If a player is pictured in uniform, I assigned him to that team
    2. Otherwise, I assigned players to the teams for which they appeared in the most games before 1875 or had the greatest historical impact



Card Reverses:

  • The Blonde & Brunette card backs have been issued randomly on the reverse of all Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874 cards from 2013 to present
  • Pioneer Portraits I card backs feature subtle year-to-year variations, all documented below
Blonde---2013

Blonde

Green Tint
Issued: 2013
Date Stamp: 2013

Brunette---2013

Brunette

Green Tint
Issued: 2013
Date Stamp: 2013

Blonde---2014

Blonde

Green Tint
Issued: 2014
Date Stamp: C.MMXIV

Brunette---2014

Brunette

Green Tint
Issued: 2014
Date Stamp: C.MMXIV


Blonde---2015

Blonde

Red Tint
Issued: 2015
Date Stamp: C.MMXV

Brunette---2015

Brunette

Red Tint
Issued: 2015
Date Stamp: C.MMXV

Blonde---2016

Blonde

Gold Tint
Issued: 2016
Date Stamp: C.MMXVI

Brunette---2016

Brunette

Gold Tint
Issued: 2016
Date Stamp: C.MMXVI


Blonde

Blue Tint
Issued: 2017
Date Stamp: C.MMXVII

Brunette

Blue Tint
Issued: 2017
Date Stamp: C.MMXVII

Blonde

Update Coming Soon
Issued: 2018
Date Stamp: C.MMXVIII

Brunette

Update Coming Soon
Issued: 2018
Date Stamp: C.MMXVIII




Size, Weight, Design, History, Status & Trivia:

  • Dimensions: 2″ x 3″
  • Thickness: 24 pts
  • GSM: 300
  • Complete Set: 53 cards
  • Inspiration: 1871-1872 Mort Rogers’ Scorecards
  • Designed: June, 2013
  • Introduced: June, 2013
  • Completed: November, 2016
  • Current Status: Active
  • Current Frequency of Release: On average, one of each card per year
  • Trivia: Due to some mistakes on my part, there also exist 3 error cards and 6 outtakes from the Pioneer Portraits I series that I no longer produce. They can be found on the Pioneers Portraits I: Errors & Outtakes page.



Checklist:



Most Popular Cards:

  • The five most popular Pioneer Portraits I cards are presented here in reverse order by average winning bid
  • This list is updated whenever changes are necessary
  • Last updated: February 25, 2018