1991 Topps Archives 1953 #332 Eleanor Engle (Senators)
Many who read my blog already know that I'm a big fan of unique baseball cards.
That's exactly what we have here.
I traded for a near-complete set of the '91 Topps Archives set a while back. The set is comprised of cards from 1953 Topps that "never were", an example being a non-existent '53 Hank Aaron rookie.
But as much as I enjoyed sorting through the likes of Joe Adcock and Bobby Thomson, the above card was my absolute favorite from the set.
It's definitely the most interesting "zero-year" card I own.
I had no clue who Eleanor Engle was before trading for the '91 Topps Archives near-set.
According to the back of the card, the Harrisburg Senators (a minor league affiliate of the then-Washington Senators) planned on signing Engle, a 26 year-old stenographer, to a contract as a publicity stunt.
She worked out with the club after signing, but what started out as a stunt ended up drawing national attention. (There's a great article about it here.)
A few days later, organized baseball passed a rule barring females from ever playing the game professionally.
Women had been a part of baseball history before the rule was passed. The famous "All American Girls Professional Baseball League", featured in the film A League of Their Own, showed that women could downright play ball. The league's heyday came during World War II, when MLB rosters were being depleted due to players being drafted into the army.
Baseball HOFers Jimmie Foxx and Max Carey both managed teams in the women's league. Annabelle Lee, aunt of future Red Sox pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee, threw a perfect game in 1944 and was one of the best pitchers in the league.
The Rockford Peaches were the cream of the crop, taking four championships, the most of any other team in the league.
Women have played an important role in the game's history, but they haven't made a ton of appearances on cardboard. But that's what makes this card so great.
As far as "uniqueness" goes, it's about as good as it gets.