|Photo courtesy Frank Kealoha Ward.|
Specific data on print runs of vintage baseball cards is virtually non-existent.
In most cases that information was never recorded in any sort of archive that survived the passage of half a century or more and made its way into hobby hands.
An exception to that norm has been unearthed in the "Major Flashes” news roundup column of the March 14, 1951 issue of The Sporting News.
In its entirety, the item read:
INTRODUCE PLAYERS BY MAIL
The Cardinals are introducing their rookies by a series of postcards being mailed to fans who have bought box and reserved seats over a period of years. Ten rookies were selected for the postcard medium of presentation, each card featuring one player, with his picture and data on his career. A batch of 25,000 cards on Infielder Solly Hemus was delivered last week.
Specialty team collectors will recognize these as one of several series of player postcards that the Cardinals issued in the postwar era. Most of the series are known as "Dear Friend" postcards because that's the salutation of a message purportedly by the pictured player thanking the recipient for his past and future support of the team.
The Dear Friend postcards seem to have been used most often to satisfy fan requests for player pictures and autographs.
We never included the Dear Friend and other Cardinals team-issued postcards of the 1940s-1970s in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards for lack of a definitive checklist. Some of the players were issued year after year, sometimes with new photos, sometimes not.
In today's internet age, there has been a lot of progress made on checklists for these issues and a catalog listing could probably be compiled.
I know that if I was still involved with the catalog, I'd go at least as far as creating a listing for the 1951 "The Cardinals Introduce . . . " series referenced in TSN. Of course I'd want to get a better picture to illustrate the set.
The 10 players mentioned by The Sporting News were divided into two formats, horizontal and vertical.
The horizontal cards, which closely mirror the Dear Friends format, were: Don Bollweg (debut Sept. 28, 1950), Larry Ciaffone (April 17, 1951), Jack Cohan (never played in majors), Bob Habenicht (April 17, 1951), Solly Hemus (April 17, 1949), Larry Miggins (Oct. 3, 1948), Don Richmond (MLB debut Sept. 16, 1941, Philadelphia A's, Cardinals debut May 13, 1951)and Bill Sarni (May 9, 1951).
Appearing on vertically formatted cards were Kurt Krieger (April 21, 1949) and Tom Poholsky (April 20, 1950).
In typical condition, usually postally used, these cards sell for $25-35 each, with Hemus commanding a bit of a premium.