I have been slacking a bit with my Vintage Card of the Month serial; my last post was in February. Let’s kick start things with a vintage superstar. The card is from the 1993 Ted Williams release, so not a vintage card, but Buck Leonard is a vintage player so I am going to include it.
Buck Leonard spent 16 years with the Homestead Grays (1934-50), the powerhouse team of the Negro Leagues. Between 1912 and 1950 the team won 11 League Titles and 3 Negro World Series Titles. There are 12 players from the Grays that have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame including Buck Leonard. When he retired in 1950 he had a .320 batting average, 60 home runs and drove in 275 RBIs. After retiring from the Negro Leagues he played 3 years in Mexico and even played part of the 1953 season in the Minor Leagues with the Portsmouth Merrimacs, a Class B team, when he was 45 years old.
Later in life Leonard became a pretty regular signer, his Hall of Fame postcard and the 1993 Ted Williams are easily found signed and prices are usually in the $10-15 range, I paid around $12 shipped a couple of years ago. Currently there are around 400 Leonard autographs on eBay, significantly more than Gray’s teammates Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson and Judy Johnson.
The card may not be vintage but his career began pre-war so I will include it. Buck Leonard was a class act, most teammates talked highly of him calling him respectable, even-tempered and professional, he was courteous and very dependable. Could you imagine if he had been signed by the Yankees to take over for Gehrig when he retired in 1939? The Yankees won 5 titles between 1940-1950, they probably would have won a couple more with Leonard at First Base.