Sunday, September 9, 2007

Beisball's been berry good to SOMEONE!

To the tune of $2.8 million, the above non-descript cardboard image of an old tyme baseball player who is NOT a household name, has been sold anonymously. Read the greedy story here.

Read the story behind the story in The Card: Collectors, Con Men and the True Story of History's Most Desired Baseball Card. Authors Michael O'Keeffe and Teri Thompson trace the history and ownership of one of baseball's most famous, and hard-to-find, cards of a player unfamiliar to most fans except for his face on a collectible.

Now, I expect some sunburnt bleacher bums will cry foul. "The Flying Dutchman" was one of the foremost players of his day. Honus Wagner was an all-star quality player, a contemporay of Ty Cobb and one of the first to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. If his quotes are accurate, it sounds as if Mr. Wagner was one of the most forthright and honorable players of his time, too. There's a lesson to be learned here (I'm talkin' to YOU, MLB All-Stars). It's "How to Be a Gentleman and a Ballplayer instead of a Billionaire Athlete".

Wagner's fame is now tied to a little piece of cardboard he didn't endorse enclosed with a product he didn't condone.

O'Keeffe and Thompson eyeball the hobby of card collecting and aren't sure how to call it. A harmless American hobby that started with little boys and bubblegum (or bigger boys and tobacco) has morphed into a booming and conniving business involving authentication experts, auction house and Wall Street bankers.

Although the history and backstories are fascinating, the writing is a little dry. Some of O'Keeffe's sparkling sports prose would be welcome in this book. Fans and collectors will be entertained and informed and likely a little disenchanted with the moneyfication of the Great American pasttime. But there's no crying in baseball or baseball card collecting, either.