Honus Wagner keeps hitting home runs in our hobby and it’s hard not to thrill to all the mainstream attention he generates more than 100 years after the release of his famous baseball card.
The latest is the sale of an Authentic (heavily trimmed and even laminated) Wagner in the recent Heritage auction that added yet another cool bit of hobby lore to the guy who has generated oodles of same for way more than a half century.
The added nuance here is that the proceeds (minus the juice) from the $262,900 final bid goes to charitable work around the world, since the card had been owned by a nun. Thus, a $220,000 winds up with the School Sisters of Notre Dame, which was the key element that helped propel national buzz about the auction for weeks preceding its close in early November.
Even our friends from National Public Radio got into the act, though in their crotchety style, managed to muster a bit of outrage that a simple piece of cardboard could sell for soooo much money in the first place.
I got a chuckle out of that last bit; NPR reported on the sale a couple of days after the close of the auction, but felt compelled to include a bit of appropriately subdued disapproval that somebody could spend that kind of money on something so intrinsically frivolous (not their wording) rather than direct their largess to something a bit more worthwhile.
I guess I understand the sentiment, even if it is so thoroughly dated. Besides, the $220,000 will end up going to the various good works supported by the sisters, which is a far loftier designation for monies accrued from sports auctions than would typically be the case.
Still, you gotta love it when even NPR gets in on the act in chatting in their dulcet, whispered tones about our wonderful hobby.
And while Honus would seem to be a prime candidate for the title of most famous baseball card in the world, he won’t even be on the ballot for a grand online venture that Topps has launched this month to decide what is the greatest Topps card in history.
I applaud this kind of thing, if for no other reason than it kind of neatly forces the vintage hobby and the more modern version to commingle a bit, something that happens rarely and only grudgingly at best.
Of course, I also wonder how it will skew the results to have the balloting conducted in this fashion, since I know that at least some of the old geezers who might be inclined to select, say, the 1954 Topps Henry Aaron rookie card, for example, might not even have a computer or much of an affinity for all things linked to cyberspace.
The promotion is part of the company’s 60th anniversary festivities, so the actual balloting will be to select the top 60 cards of all time, with the voting to run through November and Topps to announce Card No. 60 on Dec. 18, launching a countdown to Feb. 15 and the announcement of No. 1. Voters are asked to pick their favorite 10 cards and have the ability to vote once per day, an idea that sound like it might have merit if expanded beyond the narrow confines of baseball cards.
That’s timed to coincide with the release of 2011 Topps Baseball, which will have all of the Top 60 card inserted in packs.
In the interest of aiding those who might need a hint or two, I would direct you to the Sports Collectors Digest 25th anniversary issue from 1998 when we kindly proffered our choices of the Top 25 Baseball Cards of All Time. Coincidentally (but not ironically), there just happened to be 10 Topps cards in that group.
Here goes, with the SCD ranking listed in parenthesis: (1) 1954 Topps Ted Williams No. 250, (2) 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle No. 311, (4) 1957 Topps Hank Aaron No. 20, (8) 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle No. 135, (10) 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle No. 82, (15) 1954 Topps Hank Aaron No. 128, (17) 1975 Topps George Brett No. 228, (19) 1963 Topps Pete Rose No. 537, (22) 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan No. 177, and (23) 1967 Topps Brooks Robinson No. 600.
I’ll concede there appears to be a mild Mickey Mantle/Henry Aaron bias evident there, and I can’t imagine where that could have come from. Still, the Topps Anniversary ballot does have 16 Mickey Mantle cards included for your balloting perusal pleasure.
Of course, they also have a 1986 Topps Jose Canseco on board. For those who might be so unmotivated that they would simply choose to copy the SCD winners card-for-card, there’s a small glitch. The top 9 SCD cards are on the Topps ballot, but the last one, the 1967 Topps Brooks Robinson, isn’t there. Be brave.
I know you’ve been hearing this mantra for months now, but here it is one more time: Vote early and vote often.