Harry Heilmann Baseball Cards

Harry Heilmann (1894 to 1951) was a baseball player in MLB from 1914 to 1932. He played for the Detroit Tigers, except for his last two seasons in 1930 and 1932 which were with the Cincinnati Reds.

He finished his career with a .342 batting average, 2,660 hits, 183 runs, and 1,543 RBIs. His biggest achievements were his four AL batting titles.

In 1952 Heilmann was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on 86.75% of the vote on the twelfth ballot.

Born in San Francisco, California, Heilmann was the fourth child of Richard and Mary Heilmann. A major moment of his childhood was the noted 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Due to the lack of construction standards, the collapse of buildings caused the death of 3,000 individuals and resulted in 75% of the city as homeless and living in camps.

Heilmann attended a school named the Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. He excelled in football, track, and basketball. He probably played in the street with his friends like most kids of the day, but there is no record of him on a baseball team. He graduated at 17 years old in 1912.

The next time Heilmann showed up on a record was in 1913 when he played for a semi pro team. He was soon picked up by the Portland Beavers and assigned to the Portland Colts of the Northwestern League. He hit a .305 in 122 games.

Due to his playing with the Colts, Heilmann was picked up by the Detroit Tigers. After 68 games with the Tigers, which included a .870 fielding percentage, he was sent to the Pacific Coast League for 1915.

After a good year in minors, Heilman was back with the Tigers from 1916 to 1929.

For the next few years, Heilmann would continue to develop at the plate, and by 1921, he was the AL leader in batting average. His .394 average was .85 higher than his 1920 average. The massive upswing has been attributed to a variety of sources, including the potential Ty Cobb teachings and the beginning of the live ball era.

Sportswriter Frank Menke attributed the improvement to Heilmann’s continued drive to develop. He wrote, “There is nothing picturesque, nothing highly colored, nothing bombastic or spectacular about his methods. He is not a grandstander — not theatrical. And because he isn’t, he does not get the acclaim and the plaudits which men, less wonderful, but better showmen, achieve for themselves.”

In that vein, Heilmann was known for his line drive rather than his home runs.

Known as “Slug” due to his lack of speed, Heilmann’s difficulty in base running has been a major detriment to his legacy. His slowness severely hampered his hits.

For the remainder of his career, Heilmann was able to impress crowds and help to bring the Major Leagues into a new era— the live ball era. By 1928 he was declining, and he was even suspended for “indifferent training” in 1929.

After retiring in 1932, Heilmann found a new career in 1934 with a radio station as the play by lay man for the Detroit Tigers. This led to a successful radio career.

Heilmann is a major player from his era. He helps to bridge the gap between the days of Ty Cobb and the next era with Babe Ruth. Below are some of his cards, which help to do the same for baseball card collecting.

1921 American Caramel Series of 80 (E121) Harry Heilmann

This set is unnumbered and officially has 80 cards that measure 2” x 3 ¼”. Over the years, 120 variations have been found even though American Caramel claimed that there were 80 cards. The major keys to the set, in addition to Heilmann, include stalwarts like Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Walter Johnson, and Tris Speaker.

This is a fairly rare set. For reference, PSA only has 2,191 cards registered for the entire set. Only 24 of those are Heilmann cards.

As a result of the rarity, this card is not frequently traded. The most recent sale found was for $325 for a PSA 5 in 2018.

1922 American Caramel Series of 120 (E121) Harry Heilmann

This similar set of 120 unnumbered cards had the same measurements as the above. There are similar Hall of Fame players, with the addition of valuable Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth variations.

It is a comparable population for this card with 2,300 registered by PSA for the set, and Heilmann copies number 29.

This card is rarely sold, and the most recent sale was for a PSA 1 in March of 2021 for $120.

1922 American Caramel Series of 240 (E120) Harry Heilmann

This set has 240 unnumbered cards that each measure 2” x 3 ½”. Once again, this set is loaded with some major Hall of Fame players.

There are a couple more of these cards in holding. PSA has over 3,700 for the set, and 33 of those cards are Heilmann’s.

Prices are again comparable to the other American Caramel showings. The most recent sale found was for September 2019 for a PSA 1.5 for $200.

1922 American Caramel Series of 80 (E122) Harry Heilmann

This is the last major American Caramel card of Heilmann. This unnumbered set of 80 cards measures 2” x 3 ¼”. This set also has a plethora of Hall of Famers.

This set is rarer than the others. For a comparison, PSA has 180 cards for the entire set registered. Only three of those are Heilmann cards.

Pricing information is quite scarce. In August of 2020, a PSA 5 sold for $528.

1923 Willard Chocolate (V100) Harry Heilmann

The 1923 Willard Chocolate set has 180 cards that measure 2” x 3 ¼”. The set is unnumbered. This Canadian company put a card in with their chocolate. The photos on the cards remain popular today.

PSA has only 756 cards from the set registered, and Heilmann copies make 7 of those. These cards are not up for sale often, but many players of the set will sell for thousands. The last discovered sale was in 2010 for $203.15 for a PSA 2.


Along with other greats like Ty Cobb and Al Kaline, Harry Heilmann is indisputably one of the best Detroit Tigers players ever. Even more so, Heilmann represents an important era of baseball as it transitioned from the dead ball to the live ball. Likewise, his cards sit between the T206 and the 1932 Goudey.