Wait! How much were those old baseball cards worth?


“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” as the old axiom goes. And Ada Flea Market’s Dan McCrory has seen this at his store, in spades. The following is the next in a series of articles about the junk, treasures, and everything in between, that has passed through his downtown store over the years…

When I met with Dan initially, it was a Saturday at the end of the first week that students were back at Ohio Northern University. And a cluster of these students were in Dan’s store this day – looking at old baseball cards! That surprised me.

I mean, what was “Gen Z” young people doing looking, and with intense interest no less, at old baseball cards? That is, when they could be, like, streaming something(s) on their I-Phone 14s. Or for that matter, hanging out in the new Meta-Verse.

Yet instead of the ‘Meta,’ they were looking at the ‘Mets,’ and the Dodgers, and the Indians (pre-Guardians), and the Reds, and the…

I asked Dan about it.

He said: “Covid.”

You said: “Huh.”

Dan explained that it was his theory that when people were “locked down” during Covid, they got, oh, a little bored. And one of the things they turned to was cleaning out basements, paring down stuff in attics… And there, wouldn’t you know, was Johnny’s old baseball card collection, from, like, the 1990’s, and even earlier. Hmm.

Can’t just throw these away, they’re too sentimental, have too many good memories attached to them. Plus, you could probably sell these babies on e-bay for a good chunk of change.

And then, well, while Googling the worth of an old, say, Mickey Mantle card in the collection, that had just a bend or two, the search also found a baseball card collection discovered in, of all places, Defiance, Ohio, that was, perhaps the biggest motherload in baseball card collecting, EVER!

For the better part of 100 years, there was a box of baseball cards sitting in an attic of a home in Defiance. Karl Kissner was cleaning out the attic of his grandfather’s house there after he passed away.

Karl came close to just tossing the cards. Then he, luckily, thought twice. They were small, tobacco-sized cards, packaged, and wrapped in twine. (His grandfather had owned a small corner grocery and salesman would sometimes drop off packages of cards, free. And, in turn, the grandfather would just put them in the box, not selling them, not even looking at them. Just keeping them. )

Karl put the cards aside and finished cleaning the attic. Shortly after, he went through some of these cards, which had never been handled: Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Connie Mack…

‘Hmm,’ he thought. ‘Weren’t these guys pretty good, maybe All Stars, even?’

And yeah, they were good players, but what was even more significant, was that these cards were from a rare, quite limited-edition series that had been titled the “E98 Series.”

And how much were these particular cards, which Karl Kissner found, worth?

Karly would soon learn that these cards were worth: $3 million.

This story, or not, the Flea Market’s Dan said baseball card collecting at his store, and elsewhere, has gone from basically flat lining, to a revived, somewhat vibrant hobby.

And who knows, perhaps in all the Ada Flea Market’s baseball cards, there might just be another 1909, limited edition, Honus Wagner card. The last one found, sold recently for: $2.8 million at auction.

Which is, okay, a lot more than Honus made playing back then. I can tell ya that.

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