Monday, August 10, 2009
The Honus Wagner Baseball Card Has Taken On A Life Of It's Own
Like many kids growing up, I collected baseball cards with a passion. And today, 32 years later, I still have some of those original cards. Of course, as a kid, I did it more for the love of baseball and the hobby, oblivious of the fact that these cards had value and were big business. It wasn't until my teen-age years that I picked up on the value-aspect and collected them on this front. But by then, some of my original cards, lets just say, weren't exactly gem-mint anymore.
I haven't been following the hobby as much as I used to over the last few years. I'm still one of those old-school kids that loved the days when Topps was the only maker of cards. I remember in the early 80's when Fleer and Donruss came on the scene, it was like, "who invited them to the party? Now I have to ask mom and dad for more money." But anyway:
Nowadays, we don't have to be baseball card collectors to know about "the grand-daddy" of them all. The T206 Honus Wagner (above) card.
I mean, this card has taken on a life of it's own. Over the years, it has become the "arc of the covenant" of the sports collectibles industry. I can't think of any other piece of memorabilia that gets the kind of attention like the Wagner card. Every time one of these cards are sold, you read about it in the papers or hear it in the local news.
According to the blog, honus-wagner.org, in August of 2008, a card with a PSA-5 grading, sold for $1.62 million at an auction. Now that's what I call, major cash. And yes folks, the card even has bloggers. Kudos to the "Flying Dutchmen."
So why is there so much attention around this one card? First of all, the card was manufactured by the American Tobacco Company and was distributed within the company's packs of cigarettes. Legend has it, only around two hundred of Wagner's cards were ever sold to the public because Wagner refused its production, due to the fact, he didn't want kids buying packs of cigarettes in order to obtain his card. Thus began, it's mystique.
Over the years, every time one of these cards are sold, the press reports the story, bringing even more recognition to the card and increasing its value. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and then-Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall, once purchased a Wagner card for $451, 000, tying "the Great One's" name to the card and increasing its recognition. Gretzky would later sell his version of the card, but as it keeps changing hands, it's selling price increases.
Of course, very importantly, Wagner today is still considered one of the greatest players ever. He is a Pittsburgh Pirates legend, so that too, contributes to the cards attraction. Which, in my opinion, is good, because in the end, what the card has done is cement the great Honus Wagner's immortality.
Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum