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Pete Browning

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Louisville
  • Team: Colonels
  • League: American Association

Louis Rogers Browning (1861-1905) starred in the outfield for six teams over twelve seasons and was the best hitter in the ten-year history of the American Association. Pete’s nickname with the Eclipse was The Gladiator, but Browning is known to history as the Louisville Slugger: the first player to order bats from Hillerich & Bradsby after the owner’s son, Bud, invited the slumping slugger to the woodworking shop for a custom-made model that produced three hits the next day. Bud defied his dad’s unwillingness to bother with baseball equipment and sealed the company’s reputation when Honus Wagner became the first star to officially endorse a bat. Browning always ranked among the batting leaders and won the crown three times. Fighting the excruciating pain of mastoiditis with alcohol, Browning dominated at the plate even as his drinking increased. The chronic childhood affliction caused deafness and contributed to Pete’s erratic performance afield.

  • Only four right-handed batters have eclipsed Browning’s .341 lifetime average
  • A lifelong eccentric, driven by his demonic ailments, Pete lovingly named his bats and retired them when he deemed them to have used up their quota of hits
  • Selected as SABR’s 2009 Overlooked 19th Century Legend still awaiting the Hall
  • Pete's nephew, Tod Browning, was a film director best known for his films Dracula (1931) & the classic cult film Freaks (1932)
  • Browning's uniform color in this card was changed from black to maroon in January, 2017 to reflect recent reliable research conducted by Craig Brown and friends at Threads of Our Game. Nine cards had been previously released featuring a black uniform.

Auction History

Honus Wagner

Third Base
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: Louisville
  • Team: Colonels
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Johannes Peter Wagner (1874-1955) was, simply, the greatest shortstop who ever played the game. The Pittsburgh icon was among the first five selections to Cooperstown in 1936 in recognition of overall prowess afield, at bat and on base unparalleled in baseball. Even his closest rival for “All-Time Best” honors, Ty Cobb, said Honus was “maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond.” Badgered mercilessly by ‘Nuf Ced’ McGreevy’s Royal Rooters in the ’07 Series with Boston, Wagner was deeply wounded by his mediocre performance. He achieved some vindication 2 years later, leading the Pirates over Cobb’s Tigers.

  • Space doesn’t allow a fair summary of Wagner’s hitting records. A marvel at the plate.
  • Was a Pirates’ coach for 39 years, mentoring several future Hall of Famers
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1936

Auction History

Rube Waddell

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: Louisville
  • Team: Colonels
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

George E. Waddell (1876-1914) was one of the premier pitchers in MLB history and also a man-child who’d leave the dugout and chase a fire truck. His titanic struggles with Cy Young made for the greatest pitching duels of all time. Connie Mack described his curve as the “fastest and deepest I’ve ever seen.”

  • Waddell’s perplexing personal and social problems led to a shortened career and life
  • Driven to distraction, Mack sold Rube to the Browns for the ’08 season, his last hurrah
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1946

Auction History