August 04, 2008

For Only $1,619,993 More, I Could've Had...

Over the weekend I bought this great 1910 T218 Mecca Jimmy Walsh card for $7. (By the way, it turns out that Walsh and I share a hometown (Newton, Mass.).) And while I was busy scrounging in my pockets and smoothing out dollar bills on the store counter to pay for that great boxing card, over at the latest Mastro auction at The National in Chicago, a guy paid $1.62 million for a copy of the T206 Honus Wagner. All this gets me thinking: Can you imagine buying a beat-up copy of any card of a baseball player from that era for less than $10?

The whole atmosphere surrounding baseball history is singular in its intensity. I guess that's what you get for being the national pastime, but when you step back, the whole situation seems a bit unreal. I mean, why isn't the same focus fixed on old football or boxing cards? I guess there's the argument that that focus is present, but you have to add the signifier that it's only present to a certain extent, and never at the fever pitch baseball experiences on a daily basis.

Here's what's keeping these other sports back: there are no 'white whale' cards in either sport that have pervaded the national conscience like baseball's T206 Wagner.

Wagner Sells for $1.62 million (AP)

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