In the early 1890s, entrepreneur Harry Stevens changed the way fans watched live baseball games by inventing the scorecard (also known as a roster card), which identified each player by numbers on a grid. Programs containing these scorecards soon followed, offering teams more space to crow about their accomplishments on the field.

Tobacco companies, banks, and other businesses quickly realized that having their ads on the same piece of paper that fans were staring at for three hours at a stretch might be a very good idea, so they bought advertising space on the cards. Programs offered even more room for these advertisers.

One of the more interesting niches for baseball-memorabilia collectors are vintage programs and scorecards published in the first half of the 20th century by Ivy League colleges. Many or these documents printed for games played by Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth were nothing more than scorecards, but sometimes full-fledged programs were published. In the 1930s, the going rate for these programs was usually a quarter.

Another subset of baseball programs are those printed for Negro League games played between the world wars. Negro League ephemera is quite rare and highly sought-after, both by sports fans and historians, who prize such printed materials for the details and statistics they offer scholars.

Among professional teams, Yankee programs and scorecards are always in demand, thanks to the team’s large fan base and legendary roster of players, from Babe Ruth to Mickey Mantle. Other former-New York teams, the Giants and Dodgers, are also collected, owing to their roots in the Big Apple, as well as their new fan bases in San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.

Programs printed for season openers are usually more sought after than those from the rest of the season, while special programs published for an All-Star Game or World Series are most valuable of all.

One of the many interesting aspects of baseball programs is the way in which the graphics on their covers changed with the times. For example, programs from the 1920s resemble nothing so much as political campaign posters, especially those that were designed as jugates, with one player framed on the left and an opposing player framed on the right...

During World War II, patriotic imagery was often incorporated into the design of the program—a flag, soldiers listening to a game on the radio, etc. Programs from the 1950s tended to be illustrated, while many of those from the 1960s had a Mid-century Modern look to them. By the 1970s, color photography and bold graphics had largely taken over.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1916 World Champ Boston Red Sox Baseball Program Babe Ruth Pitches Vs Ny YankeesOld 1961 World Series Cincinnati Reds Yankees Baseball Program Ticket Score CardOld 1953 All Star Game Cincinnati Reds Baseball Program & Ticket Crosley Field1957 Dallas Eagles At Austin Senators Texas League Baseball Game Program1916 Nl Champion Brooklyn Robins Baseball Program Vs Boston Braves-stengel Wheat1951 Brooklyn Dodgers Orig. Baseball Game Program Hosting The Pittsburgh Pirates1946 World Series Cards V. Red Sox Souvenir Program Sportman’s Park Stl W/ticket1955 Dallas Eagles At San Antonio Missions Texas League Baseball Game Program1935 Nl Champion Chicago Cubs Baseball Program Vs Boston Braves1956 Shreveport Sports At Austin Senators Texas League Baseball Game Program1955 New York Yankees Orig. Baseball Game Program Hosting The Chicago White Sox1952 Oklahoma City Indians At Dallas Eagles Texas League Baseball Game Program1951 World Series Tickets And Program1940 World Series Program Detroit @ Cincinnati Reds 1961 Major League Baseball Official All-star Game Program At Candlestick Park1946 Vintage Chicago Cubs National League Champs Baseball Program Cincinnati OldChicago Cubs Baseball 1953 Official Program1939 Selma Al Cloverleafs Vs. Pensacola Fliers Southeastern Lg. Baseball Program1927-1928 St Louis Cardinals Baseball Spring Training Program Scorecard RosterOriginal 1958 World Series Milwaukee Braves Vs Ny Yankees Program1948 World Series Program. Boston (nat'ls) Braves Vs. Cleveland Indians.1944 Philadelphia Phillies (bluejays) Vs Boston Braves Baseball ProgramAntique 1908 Baseball Program Scorecard Corry Vs Youngsville Pennsylvanis Early2002 World Series Program Angels Vs. Giants2009 Phillies/yankees World Series Official ProgramOriginal 1947 Major League Baseball All Star Game Program Wrigley Field ChicagoOriginal 1957 World Series Program Milwaukee - Near Mint Condition1939 World Champion Ny Yankees Baseball Program Vs. Detroit TigersOld 1939 Cincinnati Reds Minor League Indianapolis Indians Baseball Program1950 Houston Buffs Vs Corpus Christi Aces Minor League Baseball Program1962 World Series Giants Vs Yankees Program & Two 1962 World Series Ticket StOriginal 1943 World Series Program St. Louis - Ex Condition UnscoredAustin Braves Baseball Game Program-texas League-stats-info-scored-pix-fn L.a. Dodgers 1959 World Series White Sox Official Souvenir Program & Two Books1953 St Cloud Rox Vs Duluth Baseball Program W/ Stub (sku-74182)1941 Philadelphia Phillies Vs Chicago Cubs Baseball Program1962 Original Mlb Baseball Program Pittburgh Pirates Yearbook! "great Shape"1940 Selma Al Cloverleafs Vs Meridian Ms Bears Southeastern Lg. Baseball Program1978 Major League Baseball All Star Game Program San Diego2014 World Series Program Kc Royals EditionOriginal 1951 Major League Baseball All Star Game Program Detroit Ex Cond1950 New York Yankees Philadelphia Phillies World Series Program Roberts Ford1952 New York Yankees Brooklyn Dodgers World Series Mlb Program Berra ReeseOriginal 1966 World Series Program Memorial Stadium - Nr Mint Unscored1970 Montreal Expos Vs San Francisco Giants Baseball Program Mays Marichal ++1989 Official World Series Program - Oakland Athletics San Francisco Giants Exce1967 Toledo Mud Hens Vs Richmond Braves Aaa Il Minor League Baseball Program1979 World Series Baseball Program, California Angels Vs Cincinnati Reds2006 Induction Program Baseball Hall Of Fame Memories And Dreams2007 Induction Program Baseball Hall Of Fame Memories And Dreams, Ripken, Gwynn2008 Induction Program Baseball Hall Of Fame Memories And Dreams, GossageWorld Series 2009 (yankees & Phillies)program Major League Baseball Book