Modern day ballplayers Alex Rodriguez and even Derek Jeter have nothing on Honus Wagner.
A rare 1909-11 baseball card with Wagner featured on the front sold at auction for a whopping $2.1 million after weeks of extended bidding. The price includes a buyer's premium but was still about a third short of the $3 million the auction expected to fetch.
The item was the centerpiece of Goldin Auctions' April 5th showcase. The famous card was among other notable items including a copy of Alex Rodriguez's 2009 New York Yankees World Series Championship ring ($50,398) and a signed Derek Jeter 2001 World Series game-used bat ($37,486).
But the Wagner card, one of only about 50-100 that are believed to exist, was the big headliner. The T206 Wagner is baseball's most coveted card. The auctioned card was classified as the "Jumbo" Wagner because its edges are 1/16 inches larger than standard cards.
The card's story is part of its legacy. T206 series cards were featured in cigarette packs, a precursor to bubble gum cards and today's high-gloss releases.
For some reason, Wagner's cards were pulled from packaging. Legend claims that Wagner — one of baseball's first superstars — protested about his card being included with cigarettes (he didn't want to encourage children to smoke) — but he may have also been peeved over his compensation from card manufacturer American Tobacco Company.
Rodriguez's ring — although not put up for auction by the player himself — has a more notorious back story of its own.
A-Rod's cousin Yuri Sucart — the third baseman's longtime assistant and reported drug mule who was given the ring as a gift — was apparently in need of some cash.
Sucart, best known as the person who A-Rod says convinced him to take steroids, put the diamond-studded World Series ring on the block. The cousin was banned by Major League Baseball from clubhouses and private areas of stadiums after Rodriguez 's 2009 admission that he took performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003.
Wagner's "Jumbo" card previously sold for $1.62 million in a 2008 auction. Known as the "Flying Dutchman," Wagner played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900-1917 and is a member of baseball's first Hall of Fame class in 1936.
And that other shortstop's World Series bat? It's Derek Jeter's ... 'nuff said.