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    

Satchel Paige Signed 1980 World Series Program Autographed Auto1968 Detroit Tigers Signed World Series Program Cover 16 Sig Kaline Psa/dna Auto1967 World Series Official Program Fenway Park Cardinals Vs Red Sox Very Clean1948 Boston Braves Vs. St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Program Score Card2014 Mlb Official All-star Game Program Limited Edition Minnesota Twins BaseballLot Of (3) World Series Programs W/ 1960 Ny Yankees 1962 Giants & 1993 Phillies1968 World Series Program St. Louis Cardinals Version Vs. Detroit Tigers1966 World Series Souvenir Program Baltimore Vs Dodgers * Excellent Condition1964 World Series Program (yankee Stadium) - Very Good Condition1965 World Series Souvenir Program Twins Vs Dodgers * Excellent ConditionOriginal 1964 New York Yankees Vs St. Louis Cardinals World Series ProgramVintage 1955 Mlb All Star Game Baseball Program W/ Ticket Stub & All Scar Game1949 Boston Braves Vs. New York Giants Baseball Program Score Card1968 World Series Official Program St. Louis Cardinals Vs. Detroit Tigers 1963 World Series Program - Dodgers Vs YankeesLuis Gonzalez Game 7 Gw Hit Signed 2001 World Series Program Jsa Coa (46435)Original 1969 Mets Orioles World Series Program Unscored Nolan Ryan + Tom Seaver1924 Baseball Program Babe Ruth Yankees Vs White Sox Comiskey Park Score BookVintage Pittsburgh Pirates World Series 1960 Official Souvenir Program1967 World Series Official Program-st. Louis Cardnals Vs. Boston Red SoxBaseball Program Southeastern League 1941 Annistown Rams, Alabama Vs Meridian1943 New York Yankees Vs. St. Louis Cardinals World Series Program 1966 New York Yankees Baseball Program Score Card Vs. Detroit TigersOriginal 1950 Phillies Yankees World Series Program Unscored Joe Dimaggio +berra1971 Baltimore Orioles Vs Pittsburgh Pirates World Series Program, Nm1969 Baltimore Orioles Vs New York Mets World Series Souvenir Program, Nm1985 Baseball Mlb All-star Game Program Unscored Minnesota Twins1947 World Series Program Brooklyn Dodgers/ny Yankees Vg+/ex1956 Dodgers Yankees World Series Program1960 World Series Official Program-pirates Vs Yankees-yankee Stadium-clementeOriginal 1956 World Series Program (dodgers & Yankees)1971 Tacoma Cubs Baseball Official Program Pacific Coast League Tom Lasorda1962 Baseball All Star Souvenir Program, Wrigley Field Chicago, Scored2009 Ncaa Baseball Super Regional Program - Ole Miss Vs. Virginia1980 World Series Program Philadelphia Phillies Vs. Kansas City Royals Excellent2nd Annual State Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament Program St Cloud Ex+ (sku-44619)Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies Retirement Night From Baseball Program2007 Ncaa College Baseball Regionals Game Program2014 Official Program - College World Series - Cws Baseball - Perfect - NeatOfficial 1982 All-star Baseball Game Program & 2 Nm Unpunched Ballots - Montreal1948 Pittsburgh Pirates Vs Cincinnati Baseball ProgramGeorgia Bulldogs At Ucla Bruins * 2011 Baseball Program * Alex Wood Braves Uga1953 World Series Program-reprint-brooklyn Dodgers Vs New York Yankees1983 Baseball Mlb All-star Game Program + Old Timers Game, Sporting News Special1977 San Francisco Giants Vs Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Program (120218)1978 Reading Phillies Vs Holyoke Millers Baseball Program (120215)1992 Baseball All Star Game Program1984 Baseball Mlb All-star Game Program Unscored San Francisco Giants2008 Ncaa College Baseball Regionals Game Program1978 World Series Official Program Great Old Ads: Beer, Alcohol, Cigarette, Cars2001 Ncaa College Baseball Regionals Game Program2005 Ncaa College Baseball Regionals Game Program