OKC BASEBALL CARDS

Oklahoma City has a rich history with baseball cards dating back to the late 19th century. Some of the earliest documented baseball cards to feature OKC players were produced in the 1890s as part of sets from tobacco companies like Allen & Ginter and Old Judge. While rudimentary compared to modern card designs, these early OKC cards provided a glimpse at the sport’s earlier days in the region.

One of the first true OKC professional franchises was the Oklahoma City Indians, who played in the Texas League from 1902-1955. Numerous tobacco era cards featured Indians players, though the sets were typically minor league focused rather than team specific. In 1931, Goudey Gum produced an Oklahoma City Indians team set as one of its “City Sets” highlighting individual minor league clubs. Featuring 17 players, the scarce Goudey OKC Indians set is highly sought after by today’s collectors.

The post-WWII era saw another boom in OKC baseball cards as the minor league scene flourished. Many tobacco brands produced regional sets covering the Texas League, with players from the Oklahoma City Indians, Oklahoma City 89ers and later incarnations frequently featured. Topps, Bowman and Fleer also got into the action by including OKC minor leaguers in their annual league sets from the 1950s onward. Notable stars with OKC roots like Mickey Mantle and Joe Dimaggio had their early career days immortalized on cardboard.

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In 1960, the Oklahoma City 89ers franchise was purchased and relocated to become the San Diego Padres. Their short time in OKC was commemorated with a team issue card distributed at 89ers games in 1959. Designed by the Topps Company, it is considered one of the scarcer regional baseball cards from the era. From 1960-1997, OKC was without a team until the emergence of the Oklahoma RedHawks brought baseball back to the city.

The RedHawks’ beginning was heralded by an inaugural season team issue card set produced by Donruss in 1998. Featuring 25 players, managers and coaches, it helped generate local interest in the new franchise. Subsequent years saw RedHawks players included in various Donruss, Fleer and Topps minor league sets. In 2003, a special Oklahoma RedHawks Diamond Anniversary parallel card was inserted one per pack by Donruss to mark the club’s 5th season. Numbered to only 75 copies, it’s a highly coveted Oklahoma City baseball rarity.

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OKC’s rich tradition of affiliated baseball took another step forward in 2010 with the debut of the Oklahoma City Dodgers, AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their first season was celebrated through inserts added to mainstream Dodgers and minor league sets from Topps, Upper Deck and others. Individual OKC Dodgers players began receiving solo rookie card treatments, while parallel and serially numbered parallels peppered packs. The Dodgers proved an immediate hit, and their player roster has since been well represented across modern baseball card products.

Beyond just affiliated ball, OKC has developed a thriving independent league scene. The current Oklahoma City Dodgers of the independent American Association began play in 2014 and instantly gained cardboard coverage. Their logos and players appeared in various indie league release from companies such as Big League, David & Goliath and Decap Sports Cards. Even locally, limited Oklahoma City baseball card sets have come out supporting both these independent teams and events like the yearly OKC Energy FC vs OKC Dodgers charity softball game.

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Today, OKC remains a hotbed for baseball cards thanks to sustained interest in its affiliated Dodgers and independent Energy teams. Local card shows draw collectors seeking the latest OKC player issues while also pursuing scarce vintage keys from the city’s amateur, Negro League and minor league past. From tobacco giants to modern parallels, over a century of Oklahoma City baseball has been commemorated on cardboard. And as long as the game thrives in OKC, its rich tradition is sure to continue finding new representations among today’s dedicated baseball card fanatics.

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