Rare card fetches $262,900 in online auction

The School Sisters of Notre Dame made it official yesterday: their all-time favorite major leaguer is definitely Honus Wagner.

That's because a rare T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, bequeathed to the order by a benefactor who died this year, fetched a whopping $262,900 in an online auction late Thursday night.

The card, which dates back to 1909, was bought by Doug Walton of Knoxville, Tenn., the managing partner of Walton Sports and Collectibles LLC.

Excluding a 19.5 percent buyer's premium, the sisters will soon be receiving a check for a whopping $220,000.

"This unusual bequest will bring us years of wonderful memories," said Sister Virginia Muller, spokesperson for the international order that has administrative offices in Baltimore. "(This) is certainly more than luck. We believe in God's divine providence."

The sisters said that money from the sale will be used to support the work of the order's 3,500 nuns all over the world.

At a press conference at the order's headquarters at Villa Assumpta in north Baltimore, Muller said the final sale price had created much excitement among the nuns.

She said she had also received a congratulatory phone call from Honus Wagner's granddaughter, Leslie Roberts, who shared a few memories of her grandfather.

"She remembered sitting in his lap in an old red chair," Muller said. "He was chewing tobacco, and chewing little pieces of candy, too."

The T206 Wagner card is one of the rarest on the sports memorabilia market. Collectors say that only between 50 and 70 of the cards are known to exist.

In 2007, a T206 Wagner card once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky was sold to Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick for $2.8 million. That was believed to be the highest price ever paid for a baseball card.

But that card with the image of the Hall of Fame shortstop was considered to be in near-mint condition. The card owned by the School Sisters, on the other hand, was graded in poor condition.

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