Bloomberg News

Honus Wagner Baseball Card Goes for $2.1 Million

April 07, 2013

A Honus Wagner trading card that the National Baseball Hall of Fame calls the sport’s “most famous collectible” sold yesterday for $2.1 million, a record for any baseball card at public auction.

Bidding on the 1909 T206 card of the shortstop closed yesterday at the price that includes a buyer’s premium, Goldin Auctions said in an e-mailed statement without identifying the purchaser. The price eclipses the $1.62 million the same T206 Wagner sold for in 2008, the previous record for a public sale of a card, according to the New Jersey-based company.

Also in the Goldin collection, a 2009 World Series ring that New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez gave his cousin Yuri Sucart sold for $50,398, according to the Goldin statement. The ring was one of many copies Rodriguez says he made.

Rodriguez said in 2009 that he used performance-enhancing substances as a member of the Texas Rangers and said Sucart helped him obtain and inject the drugs. Sucart is banned by Major League Baseball from the Yankees’ clubhouse, charter flights and other team-related activities.

Scarce Card

The Wagner card, graded Excellent 5 by Professional Sports Authenticator, is part of the T206 series released in 1909 by the American Tobacco Co. for distribution in cigarette packs. It’s known as the “Jumbo Wagner” because its dimensions are larger than most other T206 Wagner cards.

Wagner batted .329 in 21 seasons, primarily with the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning eight National League batting titles and five stolen-base crowns. The second player behind Cap Anson to reach 3,000 hits, Wagner was part of the inaugural 1936 class at the Cooperstown, New York-based National Baseball Hall of Fame, and died in 1955.

The Hall of Fame has a T206 Honus Wagner available for public viewing in its museum. A plaque beneath the card reads, “Wagner’s fame, the scarcity of the card and the story behind it make this baseball’s most famous collectible.”

Wagner was upset after the Pirates sold his picture to the tobacco company. Although he smoked cigars and chewed tobacco, he didn’t like cigarettes and didn’t want youngsters buying them for his photo, according to the Society for Baseball Research.

Wagner stopped the run, although a few of the cards reached the hands of collectors who held on to them.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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