If you don’t know about Frank Truesdale, then you’re probably not alone. You may also be scratching your head at the peculiar sight of the featured T205 card of Truesdale from 1911. Well, that’s because it’s my own little tribute (see “fantasy card”) that I made for this wholly unappreciated, unknown ballplayer.
Nevertheless, Truesdale was still a ballplayer in the majors, which in itself is an achievement that not many of us can claim. He played for some four, albeit irregular, seasons over the course of eight years from 1910 to 1918, playing with the St. Louis Browns, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. He hit one home run in his career and batted well under .300, though those numbers certainly aren’t unusual or even particularly poor in the aptly named dead-ball era (don’t you just love that phrase?). However, his “on-base percentage” was an improvement at .318. He largely fielded at 2nd base, and in his last season with the Red Sox he garnered a whopping salary of $2,120. He appears to have retired from baseball altogether in 1918, and he died in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1943.
Of course, so many players of Truesdale’s lackluster “name” status exist in baseball’s history. Largely, a life such as Truesdale’s utterly unsung existence is but a mere blip, a smattering of seemingly meaningless statistics, a smudge in the baseball almanacs and reference books. Moreover, many of these early ballplayers never received even the minimal acknowledgement of having their likeness imaged on a cheaply printed tobacco card insert. For some, not one photograph remains.
Thankfully, we do have a small photographic record for Truesdale. In fact, one such artifact appears strikingly clear and preserved: archived in the digitized holdings of the Library of Congress, this glass plate photo-negative of Truesdale from his days as a Yankee.*
The black and white photo image was combined with a scanned T205 card to create the topmost featured one–violà. The result is far from perfect, though better than I had expected. I would love to make more of these, especially for unknown players like Truesdale, but we’ll need to see if it’s–er–in the cards. Finally, if I had to give this activity a lofty, academic-inspired term, perhaps I’d call it revisionist history (via baseball cards).
*Indeed, the LOC contains a number of these stunning early photographic images of ballplayers and other athletes. Better yet, the LOC also houses a special collection of thousands of old baseball cards.
Card notes: My mission was to create a Truesdale tribute card with my limited photo editing skills (mostly using Pixlr). And for fun I also made an alternative, more cartoonish card (directly above). The process can be time consuming and tedious (at least for me), but maybe there’s just a learning curve.