Saturday, February 11, 2017

Enthusiastic about Coca-Cola

So it's well documented that Ty Cobb was a wise investor. And if you read past the claims that he was mean, dangerous, grumpy and all that, you'll find many examples of his generosity and willingness to help out old ballplayers who were down on their luck, or struggling financially. I doubt it's documented anywhere what his net worth was, or what his stock portfolio looked like, but there are two stocks he is very regularly associated with. It seems his Georgia roots allowed him to get involved with the Coca-Cola company relatively early on, and his ties to Detroit connected him to the Ford Motor Company.

If you read about the relationship between Cobb and other players, those that considered him a friend have been quoted saying that he handed out investing advice to anyone that would listen -- sometimes right in the middle of a baseball game.

How many players actually took that advice is obviously unknown.

One thing I have always wondered, though, is what Cobb's involvement was in recruiting ball players to appear in the series of Coca-Cola ads that ran in newspapers from at least as early as the 1910s and at least into the mid-1920's. Here's an example of George Gibson's ad below:

The top of the ad reads: "George Gibson of the Pittsburg Nationals (Champions of the World) let the League as catcher with a percentage of .983 and caught more games than any other catcher last year. He writes us that he is enthusiastic about Coca-Cola."

The image, in case you don't recognize it, appears to have been cropped from George's M101-2, as shown below:

To the best of my knowledge, nobody has documented the full checklist of players that can be found promoting Coca-Cola, but some of the big names of the day are available, including Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, Frank Chance, John McGraw and Eddie Collins.  The set isn't all hall-of-famers, though. In addition to Gibson, Charles Dooin and Owen Bush are featured in ads, among many others.

Finding these ads isn't terribly difficult. They are regularly available on eBay and other sports forums and can be found in quite good condition for a very fair price (read: much cheaper than the tobacco and caramel cards of the era in many cases).

It's an easy way to add a period piece to a collection.

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