I could write about Robert Byrne (Bobby, to his friends & fellow players). I could write another all too brief account of a baseball life long since expired. I could write about Byrne’s ability as a stellar hitter in the often hitless dead-ball era. (In a span of less than ten years, from 1908 to 1917, a half-dozen no-hitters occurred in a given season—three times! 1908, 1915, and 1917.) I could also write about Bobby’s remarkable athleticism; apparently, he played professional soccer in the off-season. However, when he left St. Louis to play for Pittsburgh, Pirates president Barney Dreyfuss gave him an ultimatum, which forced Bobby to choose baseball exclusively. I even could write about Byrne’s mildly curious retirement and his ownership of a bowling alley in St. Louis, the hometown of his first major league team. . . .
Honestly, though, all I really want to do is share what I believe is one of the most beautifully wretched, old cards that I have ever seen. The auction listing title for this artifact could not have been better: “1911 T205 Gold Border Robert Byrne Pittsburgh Pirates, Pretty Freakin’ Awful!” Indeed, poor Bobby’s right eye seems to be knocked out of place, as if ’twere the aftermath of some peculiar boxing match o’ cardboard.