Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rant #363: Baseball Card Helps Nuns Fortify Their Habit

It's World Series time. Last night, the Giants trounced the Rangers, and Game 2 goes on as scheduled tonight, unless the weather screws things up.

But today's baseball story is a little bit different. It involves the good fortune of the Baltimore, Md.-based School Sisters of Notre Dame.

Evidently, a nun who passed away in 1999 had a brother who died earlier this year. He left all his possessions to the order, and left a safe deposit box for the nuns to open. When they opened the box, they found a rare T206 Honus Wagner card, one of the rarest baseball cards in existence. Only several are known to exists, and a card in good condition is worth several million dollars.

Although the cards the nuns had is not in as good condition as it could be--it is bent and the borders are cut off--the nuns have put it up for auction, hoping to get between $150,000 and $200,000, which they will use for their ministries around the world.

Thus far, the highest bid is $60,000.

Why is the card so rare? The story goes that Wagner, who played most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was one of the first entrants to baseball's Hall of Fame, did not smoke, and when he found out that his likeness was put out on a 1 1/4 inch by 2 1/2 inch piece of cardboard as part of a series of cards put out by a cigarette manufacturer, he hit the roof. He ordered the production of the card to stop, and the manufacturer heeded to his wishes.

Thus, only maybe a few hundred of these cards ever hit the market, and about 60 are known to exist today.

The card is nearly 100 years old, and when collectors hear that another one of these cards has been found, they consider it a revelation second only, perhaps, to the coming of the messiah.

This particular card was in possession of the man who died since the 1930s.

So there is your feel-good baseball story of the day, once again solidifying the fact that baseball is our national pastime and nothing even comes close to its popularity.

Have you ever heard of such a brouhaha revolving around a football card?

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