What if I told you that there’s a Honus Wagner card 75 times rarer than the 1910 tobacco card that sold for $3.1 million one year ago? In fact, it’s the only one of its kind. And so far the price is only $3,194 (with the buyer’s premium) in a SCP auction closing on November 4. As I file this post, it has three measly bids.
He belonged to Pittsburgh, but folks in Paterson, NJ looked at Honus Wagner like one of their own. Playing for the minor league Paterson Silk Weavers in 1896 and ’97, the Carnegie, PA resident honed his game to a big league level. When his long and storied major league career was winding to a close 20 years later, Wagner and the Pirates returned to Paterson one last time for “Honus Wagner Day”. Now, a one-of-a-kind advertising card of Wagner, dating to that 1917 visit, is on the auction block.
For about two decades, J. Ross Greene kept a deep, delightful secret. Outside of his circle of family and close friends and one or two people in the hobby, no one knew that in 1996 he spent the shocking sum of $46,000 on a baseball card ($103,000 in today’s money). “I didn’t have many friends who thought about baseball cards,” he told me from his home in the Atlanta area. “I’m sure they thought that ‘he’s got a lot of money or hasn’t got any sense.’”
Ross Greene has held onto the more coveted and valuable of baseball cards for 21 years, keeping it a secret to all but family and a few friends and stashing it in his sock drawer. But Greene, a Peachtree City resident and serious baseball-card collector, is relinquishing his Honus Wagner “T206” card, a 108-year-old card believed to be one of perhaps 60 in existence.
SCP Auctions’ 2017 Spring Premier online auction begins today and runs through Saturday, June 10, at www.scpauctions.com. Leading the way is “The Original Wagner” T206 card from the massive J. Ross Greene Collection as well as 20 cherished items from the widow of Willie Stargell including the late Hall of Famer’s 1979 National League MVP Award and ’79 World Series ring as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The sale of the 1876 Founding Documents and Original Constitution of Major League Baseball has been delayed due to clarification of title. SCP Auctions apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused and looks forward to resuming the auction of this item as soon as possible. Other top lots include Babe Ruth’s signed Last Will & Testament from Dec. 26, 1933; Michael Jordan’s 1984 Olympic gold-medal-winning game worn and signed Converse Shoes; and a 1968 Nolan Ryan Topps rookie card that’s been graded PSA Mint 9.
‘THE ORIGINAL WAGNER’ T206 CARD – J. ROSS GREENE COLLECTION
SCP Auctions is pleased to announce that it has secured the vast J. Ross Greene Collection of more than 100,000 pre-war and post-war baseball and football cards gathered over more than half a century. In addition to complete runs of Topps and Bowman baseball and football sets, the collection includes hundreds of Hall of Fame stars and key rookie cards to be offered as singles and group lots. Since 1996, Greene has been the proud keeper of “The Original Wagner” T206 card, a singularly important example of the world’s most famous baseball card that got its name because it was the first 1909-11 Honus Wagner card that was referenced and pictured in mainstream media (1930). “The Original Wagner” Estimate: $500,000+.
THE WILLIE STARGELL COLLECTION
Among the items being auctioned as part of the late Hall of Famer’s personal memorabilia collection are Stargell’s 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates World Series Champions ring and ‘79 National League MVP Award; his 1988 Hall of Fame Induction ring; two personal player World Series trophies from 1971 and ’79; and his 1962-82 Rawlings Career Bronzed Glove Award. Affectionately called “Pops” by teammates and fans alike, he launched a total of 475 home runs and drove in 1,540 runs during his prolific 21-year MLB career, all with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a testament to his impressive power and fierce loyalty. Estimate: $500,000+
BABE RUTH’S SIGNED LAST WILL & TESTAMENT (DEC. 26, 1933)
When the great Babe Ruth passed away on August 16, 1948 at the age of 53, a national treasure was lost. It is well-documented that the vast majority of Babe’s personal memorabilia was gifted, at Ruth’s consent, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame shortly after his passing. The offered Last Will and Testament is among only a few Ruth mementos ever offered to the public with direct Ruth family provenance. It is accompanied by a LOA from Babe Ruth’s grandson Tom Stevens. Estimate: $125,000
MICHAEL JORDAN’S 1984 OLYMPIC FINALS GAME WORN & DUAL-SIGNED CONVERSE SHOES
SPC Auctions is proud to feature one of the most coveted artifacts from Michael Jordan’s legendary playing career: the actual shoes he wore in the 1984 Olympic Finals against Spain on August 10, 1984, at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. These historic sneakers are the last pair Jordan wore in competition as an amateur and represent perhaps his crowning athletic achievement before turning professional. A 21-year-old, baby-faced Jordan led USA in scoring at 17.1 points per game during the ’84 Games. In USA’s 96-65 victory over Spain to claim gold, Jordan scored a game-high 20 points while sporting these classic Converse sneakers. It was the last time MJ was ever seen wearing a non-Nike pair. Estimate: $75,000+
Bidding is open to registered bidders only at www.scpauctions.com starting today and closing on Sat., June 10. For more information on how to participate and take part in the bidding, please call 949-831-3700 or visit www.scpauctions.com. -Terry Melia
A T206 Honus Wagner card that has had only four owners and its provenance can be traced back to 1909 will soon have a new owner. The card has been dubbed “The Original Wagner,” and has been owned by J. Ross Greene since he purchased it in an auction in 1996.
Honus Wagner is widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. But for collectors, the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop is also one of the most elusive: In 1911, three years after the American Tobacco Company began distributing the T206 Honus Wagner card, the player insisted that it halt production. The reason, it is widely believed, is that the athlete didn’t want his young fans buying cigarettes in order to obtain his card. As such, no more than 200 examples were ever distributed; today, only 60-odd are known to exist.
Can you imagine selling your most prized possession for the sake of your family? That’s exactly what J. Ross Greene is going later this month when he auctions off one of the rarest baseball cards that exists in the world. Greene is one of only a handful of people who own a Honus Wagner T206 baseball card that originated in 1909.
As we reported last month, a T206 Honus Wagner card last sold in the 1990s has been consigned to SCP Auctions. J. Ross Greene, a long-time collector from Peachtree City, Georgia has held the card since then. It’s believed to be the first one ever featured in a newspaper story and that decades-old lineage is a big part of the appeal.