Basketball Hall of Famer Danny Ainge famously began his professional sports career as an infielder with the Toronto Blue Jays. Seeing that path wasn’t quite working out, he left the team and embarked on his NBA run with the Boston Celtics. Ainge is probably the best known player to play in both the MLB and NBA, but he was hardly the first.
Chicago Cubs outfielder Frank Baumholtz preceded him by two decades, becoming one of the first to play professionally in both sports. He was a star athlete at Ohio State and found himself a member of the Cleveland Rebels in their ill-fated 1946-47 season. The team folded after one year and Baumholtz moved on to the greener
pastures ivy of Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
Note: Baumholtz’s basketball stats can be viewed here at Basketball-Reference.
The Best Card Came With Dog Food
My absolute favorite Frank Baumholtz card was issued in 1954 to those willing to pony up ten cents and a couple labels from Red Heart dog food. Collectors taking up the pet care company’s offer received one of three varying series of 11 cards. Each series had a different color background that differentiated the unnumbered cards from each other. It is thought that collectors did not have a choice in which series of cards would be received and those with red backgrounds appear to be the hardest to locate today.
Baumholtz appears in the more difficult red series, making this the key card for anyone looking to obtain a card of the Chicago outfielder. What I like is that the biographical text on the back not only mentions his previous career in professional basketball, it highlights the team and league for which he played.