A Priceless Collection Of Babe Ruth Cards
Published 2:57 pm Thursday, March 7, 2013
FARMVILLE – On Friday afternoon, February 22, at 2:26 p.m., plus eight seconds, I received an email from my mother.
The subject was “What in the world…54 cards. Is this the mother load?”
In the email she told me that my father had just handed her “a pile of baseball cards he had as a boy. They are all of Babe Ruth from the early 1900s through some of the 40s. He does not know where he has been keeping them. Probably in one of his top drawers. How much do you think they're worth?…Shouldn't we keep them in a lock box.”
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I had read about stuff like this happening, somebody finds a Honus Wagner card in the back corner of the attic and auctions it off for a million bucks.
But now it was happening in my family.
My parents live in Florida, which is the only thing that kept me from getting in the car and driving over.
I called my dad for more information and he said mom had taken the cards next door to show unbelieving neighbors. I was amazed. He was amazed.
What blew my mind was he'd had the cards since childhood, which included my childhood as a baseball fanatic and baseball card collector, and had never mentioned these Babe Ruth cards.
It blew his mind too.
Two minds blown.
We were batting a thousand.
Laughing, I told my dad that it served me right, looking through the wrong drawer in his dresser when I was a kid-the one that had the monthly issues of Playboy in them, instead of the one with the Babe Ruth cards.
Hanging up, feeling like I was in a waking dream, I read my mother's email aloud to the news department and three more minds were blown. Five-for-five in blown minds. Golly, those Babe Ruth cards could hit.
What a treasure trove of cards, worth tens of thousands of dollars, at least. But we'd have to sell them and I couldn't see lobbying for that to happen.
The rest of Friday afternoon went by me like a wild pitch. My head was swirling with the unreality of it all and how my father could have had these cards for so long and never mentioned it.
Still, totally perplexed, I called Florida again when I got home that evening and my mom answered. Give me more information about the cards, I asked. What company manufactured them.
Megacards, she said, and it's called the Babe Ruth Collection.
What year, I asked her, and she answered “1992.”
Nineteen friggin' ninety-two?
Or 1902, she added.
Despite the fact that 1902 would have made the cards 90 years older and so more valuable, there was a problem. Babe Ruth didn't start playing Major League Baseball until 1914. If they were made in 1902, that would have meant they were the most amazing collection ever printed, absolutely predicting and photographing the future.
Darn. Rats. Golly, Moses.
Pick any expletive you like.
The stack of cards wrapped in a rubber band was simply a commemorative collection of Babe Ruth cards printed in 1992, probably worth no more today than what they sold for 21 years ago.
I told my mom and she was deeply perplexed, trying to picture dad buying a set of baseball cards in 1992.
My wife came home from work a few moments later. I told her the whole story, from beginning to the end.
Or what I thought was the whole story and what I thought was the end.
She looked at me like a dog trainer regarding a favorite puppy that showed decent potential and an inclination toward sentiency.
“Aren't those the cards you bought your dad for his birthday that year?” she asked.
I burst out laughing as the house of Babe Ruth cards came tumbling down around me, metaphorically, and a 10-watt light of remembrance came on in my head.
“Yes, I sure did. I can even see the metal collector's case they came in,” I answered, waiting for my dog biscuit.
So I called my father. “Dad, Kim solved the mystery. I gave you the cards for your birthday in 1992 or '93,” I told him.
After a brief silence, he replied, “Yes, you did.” The same wattage light bulb.
You can buy the whole set on line for $20, in mint condition and with the case.
We both laughed. I told him that now the cards were even more special because we'd had these couple of hours of magical fun with them. He agreed.
Then I joked that I'd gone through the right drawer in his dresser all those decades ago, after all.
Which was fitting. Despite my baseball card enthusiasm, I was more interested in Miss May than Mr. October, anyway.