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    

1949 To 1968 Mlb Baseball Game Programs X 22 With Most Also Having Ticket StubsBaltimore Orioles Vintage 1971 Alcs And World Series Programs, Ticket Stubs, EtcBaltimore Orioles Vintage 1970 Alcs And World Series Programs, Ticket Stubs, EtcBaltimore Orioles Vintage 1969 Alcs And World Series Programs, Ticket Stubs, Etc1964 New York Yankees Vs. New York Mets Baseball Game Program W/ 2 Ticket Stubs1967 World Series Baseball Program Scorecard And Ticket Stub Red Sox CardinalsBaltimore Orioles Vintage 1979 World Series And Alcs Programs, Ticket Stubs, EtcOriginal 1961 World Series Program Crosley Field - Ex Condition - Unscored1949 To 1958 Texas League Minor League Baseball Game Programs X 13Original 1958 World Series Program Milwaukee -new York Yankees Ex Condition Baltimore Orioles Vintage 1983 Scorebooks, Tickets & Stubs, World Series ProgramRare 1947 Philadelphia Athletics A's Baseball Program Vs. Chicago White SoxRare 1941 Philadelphia A's Athletics Baseball Program Vs. Chicago White SoxOriginal 1959 World Series Program Comiskey Park - Nr Mint Condition -white SoxOriginal 1959 World Series Program La Colisieum - Excellent Condition -Original 1971 Major League Baseball All Star Game Official Program DetroitOriginal 1969 World Series Program Memorial Stadium - Nr Mt Baltimore OriolesOriginal 1967 World Series Program Fenway Park Boston- Nr Mint Condition -1954 World Series Official Souvenir Program. Indians Vs. Ny Giants. Willie Mays.Original 1958 World Series Program Milwaukee -new York Yankees Ex Condition Rare New York Giants 1957 Baseball Program Vs. Milwaukee BravesOriginal 1970 World Series Program Memorial Stadium - Nr Mint Unscored1952 New York Yankees Brooklyn Dodgers World Series Mlb Program Berra Reese1993 College World Series Program Baseball Championship Omaha Nebraska Lsu AsuOriginal 1935 Major League Baseball All Star Game Program Cleveland Ex CondRare 1953 Chicago Whte Sox Baseball Program Vs. New York Yankees Mickey MantleVintage Cincinnati Reds Baseball Programs Yearbooks Magazines Lot Of 5Original 1967 World Series Program Busch Stadium St. Louis Ex Condition -Baltimore Orioles Baseball Vintage 1970s Various Original Programs, Ticket StubsOriginal 1959 Major League Baseball All Star Game Program Los Angeles Coliseum1965 World Series Los Angeles Dodgers Vs. Minnesota Twins High-grade Program!Original 1966 World Series Program Memorial Stadium - Nr Mint Unscored1932 Washington Senators Baseball Program Mgr Walter Johnson Scored 6-4 Win Det.1965 World Series Program Minnesota Twins Vs Los Angeles Dodgers Original 1962 Major League Baseball All Star Game Program WashingtonOriginal 1971 World Series Program Memorial Stadium - Nr Mint UnscoredOriginal 1968 World Series Program Busch Memorial Stadium - Nr Mint Condition -1953 Nashville Volunteers Minor League Baseball Program Vs. Mobile BearsVintage 1948 World Series Program Braves Vs. Indians - Satchel Paige1959 Major League Baseball All-star Game Program "great Cond" 2nd Game Aug 31933 Official Score Card Program Nationals Giants Baseball Mlb Word Series1982 Alcs American League Championship Series Baseball Program Angels At Brewers1951 Brooklyn Dodgers Vs Pirates Baseball Program Jackie Robinson Campy Kiner ++Official 2015 Lsu Baseball Autographed Program By Kade Scivique1944 World Series Reprint Program St. Louis Cardinals Vs. Browns1985 Alcs American League Championship Series Baseball Program Royals Blue JaysBalitmore Orioles Baseball Program Lot 1993 All-star & 1992 1st Camden Yard1962 Minnestoa Twins Vs. Los Angeles Angels Baseball Program With Schedule1965 Detroit Tigers Vs. Baltimore Orioles Baseball Program Scored1984 Detroit Tigers World Series Program Button And Press Book1937 Cleveland Indians Vs Washington Senators Baseball Program Alex Bregman Lsu Baseball All-american Authentic Hand Signed Lsu ProgramVintage 1980 Mlb Baseball World Series Baseball Program Phillies Vs Royals Official 2015 Lsu Baseball Autographed Program By Alex Bregman1965 World Series Program1946 Philadelphia Phillies Vs St Louis Cardinals Baseball Program Stan Musial ++1937 Washington Senators Baseball Program Scored 5-4 Win Over White Sox Sept. 19Official 2015 Lsu Baseball Autographed Program By Conner HaleOfficial 2015 Lsu Baseball Autographed Program By Andrew StevensonNy Mets Vintage 1986 World Series T-shirt, Mug, Vhs, Keyring, Program Guide