It sounds too good to be true, but this is legit. The most famous classic baseball card -- a tobacco card of Honus Wagner purchased at auction in 1991 by hockey star Wayne Gretzky and Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall for $451,000 -- is being given away.
Gretzky gained sole ownership of the card during McNall's bankruptcy sell-off earlier this year. Treat Entertainment bought it from Gretzky and will give it to a lucky collector next year.
"We bought it to create a lot of excitement in the trading card hobby world for present and future collectors," says Treat's John Appuhn. "The idea was [company president Harold] Anderson's after the strike and the enthusiasm for the cards was down."
Appuhn says Treat paid "in excess of $451,000" for the card; "our president did not disclose the exact price."
Treat, a distributor of cards, collectibles and accessories, would appear only to benefit indirectly from the promotion. It isn't a manufacturer or a retailer, so impressed collectors can't show their appreciation by patronizing Treat.
"We're just out to energize the hobby, which will obviously help us as well as the retailers and manufacturers," says Appuhn.
There will be four monthly drawings for classic cards valued at $5,000, and the 1,000 entries drawn each month will be eligible for the Wagner drawing, scheduled for February. October entries will be eligible for the November drawing for a George Mikan rookie card.
Entry forms are in specially marked card packs at Wal-Mart and on store displays. (Collectors also can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to World's Most Valuable Card Entry Card Request, P.O. Box 11838, St. Paul, Minn. 55111.) Manufacturers Fleer, Leaf/Donruss, Topps and Upper Deck are part of the promotion.
Art for kids' sake
Some children at Ronald McDonald Houses will get tickets to the World Series, thanks to Chicago restaurateur Joe Aurelio. For the sale of each "American Dream" serigraph featuring Joe DiMaggio, Aurelio will donate Series tickets. The limited-edition artwork is signed by DiMaggio.
The serigraphs cost $2,495 and have been popular with
corporations. Call (708) 922-1956 for details.
Hear the call
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Hideo Nomo led the NL in strikeouts. Remarkable Moments has captured his first strikeout a color photo and the call from the game, activated by the touch of a button. It will be sold as a limited edition of 1,995. Call (800) MOMENT-5.
Saturday, card show and silent auction, Camden-Wyoming Fire Station, Camden, Del. (expected signer is Larry Sheets), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (302) 284-9331.
Saturday-next Sunday, card show, York (Pa.) Mall (I-83, Exit 8E), (expected signers are Rich Ashburn, Saturday, and Boog Powell, next Sunday), (410) 529-1624.
Sunday, card show and auction, Reflections Restaurant, Freedom Village Shopping Center, Eldersburg (expected signers are former Orioles Bill Swaggerty and Larry Sheets), show begins at noon, auction at 4 p.m., (800) 230-4312.
Card of the week
Donruss has redesigned its hockey cards for the 1995-96 season. Series 1 has 205 cards, plus six insert sets. Card backs show 1994-95 actual statistics as well as numbers projected over a full season. (Shown is Luc Robitaille of the Pittsburgh Penguins.)