Otto Krueger vs Art Kruger - Another T206 Mystery Solved?
by Frank Burkett
Otto “Oom Paul” Krueger is a member of the T206 Monster; however, he is pictured playing for Columbus, a team for which he never played, and his name is misspelled 'Kruger'. The Carl Horner photograph shown above offers several clues that I believe lend some insight into this mystery.
Arthur Theodore Kruger (different last name spelling - same spelling shown on the T206 card) played outfield for Columbus in 1908 and 1909. He had brief appearances for Cincinnati in 1907 and for Cleveland in 1910. All three cities begin with the “C” that appears on the unform of the player depicted on the 'Kruger' T206 card.
Otto “Oom Paul” Krueger first played in the majors for Cleveland in 1899. He then played three years in St. Louis before joining the Pirates in 1903. In 1905 he played briefly for Philadelphia. By 1909 he was playing for Fresno and San Jose in the California League, a fact probably not known to the American Tobacco Company.
The Carl Horner photo shown above is clearly the same one used to create the T206 'Kruger' image. The photo does not identify the team that Krueger was playing for at the time. On the card, the vest pocket has been removed and the “C” added. The reverse of this photo is signed by “Oom Paul” Krueger, I believe, and the pennant winning Pittsburgh team of 1903 is referenced.
Other T206 players had major league careers well before 1909. I think Otto was chosen for the set probably because of his years with the Pirates. ATC got the picture right, but when they wanted to find his current team they made a mistake and found Art Kruger from Columbus. They misspelled 'Krueger' on the card and added the Columbus “C” to the picture.
With Horner's photo and the writing on the back, I have some comfort with this explanation. Art Kruger (shown above right) played for Columbus but is not the photo on the Kruger card. Otto “Oom Paul” Krueger is the player pictured on both the photo and the card.
Or, on the other hand, ATC might have contacted Art Kruger in Columbus when it went after consent from the 4 other Columbus players included in the set (Bunk Congalton, Bill Clymer, Joshua Clarke and Ossie Schreckengost). Art might at that time have agreed to his inclusion in the set.
If this is the case, then apparently the picture from Art Kruger was never received and someone at ATC or the lithographer found the incorrect Krueger picture shown here - that of Otto Krueger. The result of such a scenario would be that the spelling on the card and the team name 'Columbus' are in fact correct, and the photograph used is the error. Because Otto was playing in California in 1909, it seems less likely that ATC obtained his consent there for inclusion in the set.
One could argue either way, but what is clear is that the Horner photo shown above is the photo used for the card and with the additional evidence of the writing on the back, the image is actually that of Otto Krueger, known affectionately as “Oom Paul”.
A picture is worth a thousands words, certainly more than what I’ve written. The photo though, adds to the understanding of the T206 Kruger (or Krueger).