A Boy's Life
Like many young men born at the turn of the 20th century, Senator Russell developed a lifelong passion for baseball. In addition to playing the game with friends and school chums, the young Russell was a "crank" of the first order, devouring baseball statistics from newspapers and annual publications with the same intellectual curiosity that he would later display as a politician and legislator. According to his biographer Gilbert C. Fite, while in office Senator Russell "almost always managed to listen to the World Series over the radio, and in later years, he watched the games on television Russell's friends claimed he knew more statistical information on football and baseball players than most people would care to know." Other politicians may have once played the game better or professed admiration for the sport in a more public manner, but none appear to have loved it with the same encyclopedic passion as Senator Russell.
The majority of cards come from the T-206 "White Border" series, the largest tobacco card set of the early 20th century and the one containing some of the most prized cards in the collecting world. Some of the rarest T-206 cards are included in the Russell collection, including an extremely scarce misprint of a Joe Doyle card and an equally uncommon Ty Cobb portrait featuring the slogan, "Ty Cobb, King of the Smoking Tobacco World," on the reverse. While two of the other most valuable cards from this set - the fabled Honus Wagner card and the very scarce Eddie Plank card - are missing from the Russell collection, almost every other card produced in this series is present, often in multiples. The majority of cards are in very good condition.
Also included in the collection are many cards from the T-210 "Red Border" set. These black-and-white cards feature minor league players from various organizations around the country. Russell was particularly fond of collecting players from the Class A Southern League and the Class C South Atlantic League (Sally League). In addition to numerous cards featuring Atlanta Crackers players, there are also cards depicting players from the Sally League's Georgia-based franchises.
Rounding out the collection are several T-205 "Gold Border" cards featuring members of the 1910 National League champion Chicago Cubs, a handful of large-format Turkey Red cabinet cards, and other cards featuring non-baseball subjects such as boxers, actresses, Olympic athletes, and flags of the world.