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Cards found in attic sell for record at Baltimore auction

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Cards found in attic sell for record at Baltimore auction

By John Seewer
Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- The discovery of century-old baseball cards in an Ohio attic isn't going to make anyone super-rich even though it's being called one of the most exciting finds in the history of sports card collecting. That's because the cards and the money are being evenly divided among 20 cousins.

A sampling of the treasure trove that had been untouched for 100 years was sold Thursday night during the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore. The 37 baseball cards featuring the likes of Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Honus Wagner fetched 566,132 in brisk online and live bidding. They were expected to bring about 500,000.

"It was a lot of fun," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions, which conducted the sale. "The room was packed."

He said two lots were sold to Internet bidders and the third went to a live bidder. The auction house declined to identify the winning bidders.

Family member Karla Hench, who helped find the cards, said the cards brought "fantastic prices and we're very excited that we can all share in this find. It's like a gift from our grandfather to keep passing on."

What made this find so special was that the 700 cards were nearly pristine, the finest examples anyone had ever seen from an extremely rare series given out with candy around 1910.

The best of the bunch was sold in three lots -- one, which sold for 286,800, was a nearly complete E98 set, the name of the the series the cards were issued under, and another was a Honus Wagner card that was judged to be in perfect condition by Professional Sports Authenticator, a company that grades cards on a 1-to-10 scale based of their condition. It brought 239,000.

The highest price ever paid for a baseball card is 2.8 million for a different Wagner card -- a 1909 version produced by the American Tobacco Co. and included in packs of cigarettes. Only about 60 of Wagner's tobacco cards are known to exist after being pulled from circulation, either because the ballplayer didn't want to encourage smoking among children or because he wanted more money.

Sports card experts who authenticated the find in Ohio say they came across dozens of cards that were just about perfect.

Karl Kissner, who unearthed the cards in February in the town of Defiance with Hench, his cousin, said they belonged to their grandfather, Carl Hench, who died in the 1940s. They think he gave away the cards at his meat market and stashed the extras in his attic and forgot about them. One of Hench's daughters kept the house until she died last October, leaving everything inside to her 20 nieces and nephews.

Heritage Auctions plans to sell most of the Ohio cards over the next two of three years through auctions and thinks they could bring up to 3 million. The Hench family is evenly splitting the cards and all but a few have decided to sell their share.

Kissner said the money is nice, but the best part is how the discovery has brought his family together. Fourteen of the cousins planned to be at the auction in Baltimore. Some have talked about giving some of their share to charities, he said.

"It started out with a walk down memory lane, and this is going to create nothing but new memories," Kissner said. "This is a blessing that will grow throughout this family."

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Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

$500 million.

That number is so hard to wrap your brain around, but it's a number a lot of professional baseball players may soon start seeing on their contracts.

One player who could be the first to see that amount within the next year is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper will become a free agent in 2018 and people are already projecting his market value at close to $500 million, if not more.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed a contract back in 2014 for 13 years, $325 million, holding the league record.

For Fancy Stats writer Neil Greenberg, $500 million is a bargain for someone of Harper's caliber.

"Harper is every bit as good [as Stanton] but he's also young," Greenberg told the Sports Junkies Friday.

"I mean, we don't see a player that's as good as Harper, that's as young a Harper, hit the market almost ever I want to say. You look at how many years of his prime he has left and then even if you start to give him just the typical aging curb off of that prime, he's probably worth close to 570 million dollars starting from 2019 and going forward ten years. And that includes also the price of free agency going up and other factors."

Harper, who is only 25 years-old, brings more to a team than just talent. He's one of the most recognizable figures in baseball, bringing tremendous marketing opportunities to an organization. Greenberg dove deeper into how that will increase his market value.

"And that's just for the on-the-field product. You talk about all the marketing that's done around Bryce Harper [and] what he does for the game. In my opinion, and based on the numbers that I saw, he's a bargain at $500 million."

Don't we all wish someone would say $500 million is a bargain for us?

After crunching the numbers, the biggest takeaway for Greenberg is the return on investment the Nationals have gotten out of Harper.

"Like if you look at his wins above replacement throughout his career, he's given you 200 million dollars in value for 21 million dollars in cash and he's due what another 26 or 27 million this year. I mean he's already given you an amazing return on investment."

"So, if you're the Nationals having - benefited from that - you know you have a little bit of, I guess, wiggle room in terms of maybe you're paying a little bit for past performance 'cause, you know, when a player is on arbitration in their early years they don't really get paid that much."

The Nationals still have Harper for one more season and many feel they need to make him an offer sooner than later. Whenever and whoever he gets an offer from, it's going to be a nice pay day for him.

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Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

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USA Today Sports Images

Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals has coasted to his third Cy Young Award and second straight in the National League.

Scherzer breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The honor was announced Wednesday on MLB Network.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit. He became the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs.

RELATED: WIETERS WILL RETURN TO NATS IN 2018 

Scherzer was 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA and a league-leading 268 strikeouts for the NL East champion Nationals.

Kershaw has already won three NL Cy Youngs, and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts.

Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians easily won his second AL Cy Young Award earlier in the day. He got 28 of the 30 first-place votes, with Boston's Chris Sale second and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees third.

Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball.