BASEBALL CARDS ON CAPE COD

Baseball cards have long been a staple of the sport, providing fans with glimpses of their favorite players throughout history. While the modern baseball card is primarily associated with major league teams and stars, the hobby has deep roots in Cape Cod that date back over a century. Throughout the 20th century, Cape Cod developed its own unique baseball card culture that celebrated the region’s rich history of the sandlot game.

Some of the earliest baseball cards produced for Cape Cod leagues and teams date back to the early 1900s. As amateur and semi-pro baseball grew in popularity on the Cape in those years leading up to World War I, local printers like Queen Anne Press of Harwich began producing simple promotional cards for the newest teams. These early exemplars were often just basic printed materials featuring a player’s name and sometimes position on one side with little else in terms of design flourishes or statistics. They helped foster excitement for the growing amateur ranks on the peninsula.

In the post-World War I era, production of baseball cards on Cape Cod expanded as the summer collegiate leagues cemented their popularity. Leagues like the Cape Cod Baseball League drew top college players from across New England and beyond to hone their skills against top local competition over the summer months. Entrepreneurs like Hyannis businessman William O’Hara saw an opportunity to cash in. In the 1920s, O’Hara’s Cape Cod Press began mass producing sets of cards not only for the CCBL, but also town-based amateur circuits that were blossoming across the region.

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O’Hara’s early CCBL cards helped cement the lore and rivalries of that storied league during its formative decades. Players like future Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams had their rookie summers immortalized on Cape Cod cardboard alongside other stars of the era like Bobby Doerr. The cards also helped promote the league and individual teams to local fans. By the late 1920s, O’Hara had expanded his card line to include sets focused on individual Cape Cod towns, capturing the pride locals felt in their sandlot heroes.

Through the Great Depression and World War II years, Cape Cod baseball card production slowed but did not entirely cease. Local dime stores still stocked cards produced by O’Hara and others showcasing the players who kept the amateur game alive on the home front. In the post-war boom years, interest rebounded strongly. Hyannis-based Card Craft began mass producing glossy multi-player cards and sets for leagues across the Cape in the late 1940s and 1950s. Their cards brought color illustrations of players to the hobby for the first time.

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The 1960s represented a golden age for Cape Cod baseball cards as the hobby intersected with wider growth in sports card collecting. Two brothers, Robert and Richard Hunt of Harwich, left careers in publishing to found Hunt’s Sportscards, a company that would become the premier producer of cards for the CCBL and Cape leagues. Their cards featured vivid action shots, stats, and biographies of players in the modern MLB card style. Hunt’s cards captured Cape League and town legends of the 1960s from Reggie Smith to Ron Blomberg in the heyday of their summers on the Cape.

In the 1970s, Hunt’s Sportscards expanded from baseball to also produce memorable hockey and basketball cards highlighting Cape Cod’s top high school and amateur players. Their cards chronicled the rise of future NHL stars like Buzz Fedyk of Mashpee. The sports card market crashed in the late 1980s as the baseball card speculative bubble burst, dealing a major blow. Hunt’s Sportscards was forced to close after nearly 30 years, though their archival cards remain some of the most coveted in Cape Cod baseball history.

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While no company today produces cards solely focused on Cape Cod amateur baseball, the region’s card legacy lives on. Vintage CCBL, town league, and Hunt’s Sportscards issues remain popular with collectors nationwide. Every summer, the modern stars of the CCBL continue adding their own names to the lore of Cape Cod baseball immortality first chronicled over a century ago on cardboard. From Ted Williams to Buzz Fedyk and beyond, the region’s baseball card pioneers ensured its sandlot greats will never be forgotten.

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