Baseball Trove Gets $1M Pricetag on ‘Antiques Roadshow’

By ABC News

Aug 13, 2014 5:40pm

A woman hit a home run when her family’s collection of professional baseball cards and some letters  received an insurance valuation of at least $1 million during a taping of “Antiques Roadshow.”

The woman’s name was not released because of security reasons. The collection was part of a family heirloom passed down through five generations to her by her great-great-grandmother.

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Leila Dunbar, an “Antiques Roadshow” appraiser, said she knew “immediately” that the collection was special.

“This is not your run-of-the-mill, 1980s, 1990s Topps that come through your door. … You have the pioneers here of professional baseball,” Dunbar said.

The woman’s great-great-grandmother ran a boarding home in Boston in the 1870s, when the Red Sox baseball team known as the Red Stockings housed its players there.

The cards were kept in pristine condition — so rare experts didn’t believe they still existed — but the grand slam was a letter written to the landlady by three Hall of Famers about how they missed her cooking.

Among the cards was one for Albert Spalding of Spalding sporting goods fame.

“Back in 1871, [Spalding] was a fantastic pitcher with the Boston Red Stockings. In 1889, he led a tour of the first baseball team around the world,” Dunbar said.

The woman had turned down an offer of $5,000 previously, on a hunch that the collection was worth way more. And she was right.

Dunbar said the woman was overwhelmed but had said she did not plan to sell and wanted to keep it in the family for generations to come.

The collection was brought to an “Antiques Roadshow” taping Saturday in New York City and will be featured on an edition of the PBS series.

“In the 19 years I have been on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ … this archive was by far the most exciting that I’ve ever seen. And the story was fascinating,” Dunbar said. “It goes to show that even in 2014, that there can be great finds in anyone’s attic or cellar.”

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