It’s the Holy Grail of baseball cards. It’s even the Holy Grail of all baseball memorabilia. The 1909 Honus Wagner T206 card. It’s currently on display at Audemars Piguet watch store on E. 57th street in Manhattan. I don’t have the near $3 million (or more) it will cost when the card is sold by Goldin Auctions on April 5th, so I settled for five minutes with the card at the luxury watch store. It took all my power to not pass out from my excitement.
Just a small piece of paper worth that much money it’s pretty unbelievable. This particular T206 Honus Wagner is referred to as the “jumbo” Honus Wagner card as it has bigger borders than any Wagner card on record. There is another card that is in better condition, but is steeped in controversy about it’s authenticity. That particular card was once owned by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. For more info on that card, you can watch this excellent “30 for 30” short piece on the Wagner T206 here.
Back to this card though! Why is the Honus Wagner T206 so rare and so valuable? These original cards would come in packs of tobacco and featured a Sweet Caporal cigarettes advertisement on the back. Wagner was anti-tobacco and asked that the cards be pulled. There are only about 50 of these cards left in existence, with most in terrible condition. It doesn’t hurt that Wagner was a future Hall of Famer and possibly the best player of his era. It’d almost be like Derek Jeter today pulling every card he was on except for fifty of them. According to auctioneer Ken Goldin, the “Jumbo Wagner” is “the nicest card ever pulled from a pack”, that’s pretty high praise.
They are expecting this card to break the record of the other Honus Wagner T206 that was owned by Gretzky and is currently in possession by Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendricks. That card was sold for $2.8 million. The “Jumbo Wagner” last sold for $1.62 million in 2008, a record for a baseball card in a public auction. The bidding is currently at ten bids and selling for $1,271,796.00 with over eleven days left. It’s safe to assume it will break it’s own record. I’m just glad I got spend 5 minutes with it, maybe next time it goes on sale I’ll have $4 million in the bank to splurge on.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
I’ve been playing fantasy baseball for just over a decade, but today I participated in just my 2nd auction draft. My first was in 2010 and I went on to win the league, so I’m hoping for similar results this go around. Everyone in the league had tried out for the MLB Fan Cave. There was a nice mix of people from Cave Dwellers Benjamin Christensen, Ricardo Marquez, Lindsay Guentzel, and Ricky Mast, to top 50/30 participants and a few that unfortunately didn’t crack the top 50. There are three members of the Three Up, Three Down podcast in the league; myself, Jeremy Dorn, and Kurt Peter. Kurt and Jeremy unfortunately had to miss the auction and were sent to auto-bid purgatory.
My plan? Identify players that I didn’t and try and make other people spend their money, especially with two Yankees fans in the league. I wanted to make them overspend while they still had money ($260 budget) and take it off the table. It worked to a degree, I threw out Michael Pineda, Curtis Granderson, and CC Sabathia in the first three rounds and all were eaten up above the projected price for them. I also took the ESPN Dollar Value machine for a spin that can be found at espn.com/dollarvalues (Warning: Insider account needed). While it’s more for roto leagues projecting values with the ESPN stat projections for players, I found it a useful tool to find players for this league that also counted OBP, SLG, L, and BB along with the normal categories. With the addition of L and BB’s the tool narrowed greatly the usefulness of SP in this format and you can see from the draft that I went heavy on hitting.
Here’s my hitting lineup:
Look at that offense. I spent a lot of money on it and if it’s not the best offense I’ve ever had in a fantasy league, then it’s damn close. I grabbed Mauer and Cuddyer for my co-manager and Twins fan extraordinaire Lindsay Guentzel. (Look I found another way to wish you Happy Birthday!) However, both still presented value according to my chart. Cuddyer is projected to return $20 of value in this format and gives my flexibility to move Pedroia if I need to for pitching help later in the season and slide Cuddyer over to 2B. This league also devalaued speed players like Dee Gordon and Elvis Andrus who went for way more than I was told. Plus, there are two Brewers fans in case I need to one day deal Ryan Braun.
Now for the pitchers:
To have spent only $37 of a $260 cap on pitching and come out with a pitching staff like that is pretty solid I think. There are still a few guys on free agents that could also bolster this pitching staff. After swearing never to own Jimenez after he single-handedly cost me a league last year, I rolled the dice when my funds were limited at $2. It’s always easier to find pitching on the waiver wire than hitting, plus I hope that Matt Moore can be the stud everyone says he will be. Finally, I also succeeded in my tried and true closer strategy; get one big name closer and fill in with as many of the lower-tier closers as you can to rack up the saves. Capps, Myers, Guerra, and Pestano all fit the bill there. Myers is also a sneaky play with his SP eligbility and opportunity for saves, albeit not many with the Astros.
The real take away from the auction? They are a blast. Almost everyone in the league was trying a baseball auction for the first time and everyone came out of it thinking it was fun. It’s a lot more intricate than just picking a player and sitting around for it to come back to you. You have a chance at EVERY player. Just ask my opponent that spent 58% of his money on Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, and Jose Reyes. Could you do that in a snake draft? I think not. . Love my team? Hate my team? Leave a comment. Good luck and happy drafting.