Thursday, October 28, 2010

Honus Wagner card could hit a homer for nun

Religion and Baseball - From the Post-Gazette

It seems unbelievable: A nun, of all people, is likely to come into a six-figure windfall auctioning off an exquisitely rare Honus Wagner baseball card.

But really, it's not much harder to swallow than the life of Wagner himself.

"Every so often his name will come back to the surface because of the card," said Dennis DeValeria of Ross, who wrote "Honus Wagner: A Biography" with his wife, Jeanne DeValeria, in 1996. "I love it because he's a guy who really deserves it."

A native of what is now Carnegie, Wagner is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players ever, receiving more votes than Babe Ruth for the inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The former Pirates shortstop also was a movie star, a coal miner and an aspiring politician, not to mention the owner of a chicken farm and a circus troupe.

Despite his accomplishments in baseball, which include 17 seasons in a row hitting above .300 and winning eight batting titles, he is best known these days for the T206 baseball card, released in 1909 by The American Tobacco Company.

Wagner ordered a halt to the production of the card. While the popular lore goes that Wagner stopped the cards because he opposed smoking, it was more just opposition to tobacco products for children, said Mr. DeValeria.

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