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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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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.