On Thursday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame celebrated the 100th anniversary of the famed T-206 Honus Wagner card by offering a series of informative card-related programs. As in interested spectator, I learned that there are plenty of myths surrounding the card.
First off, Wagner did not tell the tobacco company to stop production of the card because of his disapproval of cigarettes and cigars; the exact reasons for Wagner halting the card’s production remain unknown. Furthermore, the Wagner card is not the rarest card in existence, since there are anywhere from 40 to 100—including two at the Hall of Fame—still populating this earth. But it is the most valuable, and remains the Holy Grail to most card collectors.
While the Wagner card carries the highest monetary sum, one of my most cherished cards carries a value of about a buck and a quarter, if that much. In July, the Baseball Reliquary featured my thoughts on that card as part of an exhibit at the Pasadena Library. The following is the text that I submitted for the exhibit’s description of that card, which stands as my personal version of the T-206 Wagner.
This was the first card. On a spring Saturday in 1972, I made the 15-minute walk from my house on 80 Hereford Road to the village of Bronxville, N.Y. Stopping at Gillard’s Stationery Store, which was practically the first store one came across upon entering the village, I purchased my first pack of baseball cards. Lying on the top of the pack was a 1972 Dave Cash (No. 125 in the Topps set), which thus earned bragging rights as the first official card in my collection. At the time, the ’72 Cash was a good card to have; he was the starting second baseman for the defending World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, who had confounded the baseball community by defeating the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles in a classic seven-game World Series.
Little did I realize at the time, but I would eventually develop two common bonds with Cash. Fifteen years later, during the spring of 1987, I would begin my first job, working as a sportscaster for WIBX Radio in Utica, N.Y.—the same upstate town where Cash had spent his formative years in the ’50s and ’60s.. There was no way I could have known that I would end up working in that small city in central New York. Heck, I was only seven years old and hadn’t even heard of Utica in 1972.
I remained at the radio station until March of 1995, when I fulfilled a dream by taking a position at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Dave Cash had also forged a link with Cooperstown. As a standout amateur playing American Legion baseball in central New York, Cash had made several trips to play organized games at Cooperstown’s historic Doubleday Field. It was a ballpark that Cash would return to as a professional, playing for the Pirates in the annual Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field. Cash played at Doubleday in the summer of 1973—the year of Roberto Clemente’s election to the Hall of Fame and just one year after I collected my first baseball card.
Dave Cash will never make the Hall of Fame as a player, and he’s probably little known to most fans who were born after the game’s free agent era began in the mid-1970s. Yet, to this fan of our great game and this collector of baseball cards, Dave Cash will always remain an important name in the Markusen household.