The holy grail of baseball cards is going to help an order of nuns in Baltimore.
A rare Honus Wagner card, the one that came with cigarettes before the 1900s era Hall of Famer Pirates shortsop balked at being used to encourage tobacco use, fell into the hands of the Baltimore-based School Sisters of Notre Dame. A deceased nun's brother left the coveted card to the convent earlier this year when he died.
The same card in mint condition fetched $2.8 million in 2007. This one, part of the T206 series which was produced from 1909-1911, has a crease and some tatters. It's expected to bring between $150,000 and $200,000 when the sisters auction it off. They plan to use the money to fund ministries in 35 countries around the world.
The dead man's lawyer told Muller earlier this year he had a Honus Wagner card in a safe-deposit box.
When they opened the box, they found the card, with a typewritten note: "Although damaged, the value of this baseball card should increase exponentially throughout the 21st century!"
The card was unknown to the sports-memorabilia marketplace because the nuns' benefactor had owned it since 1936. About 60 of the cards are known to exist.
The auction, held on the Heritage Auction Galleries website, ends Nov. 4.
"The money that we receive from this card will be used for the many School Sisters of Notre Dame who are around the world, who need support for their ministries for the poor," Muller said.