Under the Influence

This rookie card recently sold for $3.25 million

Baseball is a sport with legendary players and die-hard fans. It’s also a very collectible sport. Baseball trading cards are some of the most valuable in the world, and some cards sell for millions.
The 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card, such as the one shown here in 2003, is considered the most desirable of all that sport's collectibles. ((Mary Godelski/Associated Press))

Honus Wagner was a shortstop who played most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wagner was considered the best player in the league at the time, with eight batting titles - a National League record that has not been broken to this day. He would be one of the first five players later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb called him the "greatest star to ever take to the diamond."

When the American Tobacco Company issued its baseball cards in 1909, Wagner's card was extremely popular. But soon after, Honus Wagner requested that his card be pulled from circulation and production of the card be stopped.

Two theories exist as to why.

The first suggests that Wagner, a non-smoker, didn't want his image associated with cigarettes. Especially since kids looked up to him. The other theory is that Wagner wasn't happy with the money the American Tobacco Company was offering to pay him for his image.

But of the hundreds of thousands of baseball cards issued at that time, only about 200 Honus Wagner cards were printed before they were pulled. And only a handful have survived. One of which was owned by Wayne Gretzky.

Back in 1991, Gretzky and Bruce McNall purchased a Honus Wagner baseball card for $451,000 USD. Four years later, Gretzky sold the card to Walmart for $500,000, to be used as a grand prize in a promotional contest.

A Florida postal worker won that prize and auctioned it at Christie's for $640,000. The "Gretzky Wagner" card would change hands several times after that and last sold for $2.8 million. A different Honus Wagner card recently sold for $3.25 million.

But that record price was recently broken.

Mickey Mantle's 1952 rookie card sold for $5.8 million not long ago.

Gretzky's own rookie card set a new record for hockey cards last year. A mint one sold for $1.29 million.


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Under the Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio, a 1969 Airstream trailer that's been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O'Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

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The Terstream Mobile Recording Studio. (Image Credit: Sidney O'Reilly)

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