The Burdick Baseball Card collection constitutes an integral part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of ephemera and tells the history of popular printmaking in the United States. In 1947, after having approached A. Hyatt Mayor, the Museum's curator of prints and photographs, the Syracuse electrician Jefferson R. Burdick (1900–1963) began to donate his entire collection of approximately thirty thousand baseball cards in large batches, along with another 270,000 trade and postcards, to the Museum.
The baseball cards collected by Burdick date from 1887 to 1959 and represent the most comprehensive collection outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The cards on view illustrate the history of baseball from the dead-ball era at the turn of the nineteenth century into the golden age and modern era of the sport.
The baseball cards document the sport through various types of media—from lithography to photography—and imagery illustrating legends as well as the lesser-known players, owners, and teams that have contributed to the history of the game.