Big news in the baseball card world.
Dan Good of the New York Post reports that the famous 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card was sold at an auction this morning for $2.1 million. The buyer’s identity is unknown. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, this is a new record price for a card in a public sale, topping the $1.6 million price paid for the same card back in 2008.
“My overall goal on the T206 Wagner from the start was to set a record for a trading card auction,” said Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions, which auctioned the card. “My auction house set a new record by close to $500,000.”
Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick paid $2.8 million in 2008 for a T206 Wagner — the same card once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky — but that was in a private sale.
Widely regarded as the hobby’s most coveted card, it’s believed there were only several dozen T206 Wagners in existence. The series was distributed in cigarette packs, but the Wagner cards were pulled for an unknown reason. Some say Wagner didn’t want to encourage children to smoke, but others believe that he wasn’t happy about not being paid by the card manufacturer.
Some of the other items up for bid included a signed Wagner baseball, a bat used by Derek Jeter in the 2001 World Series and a duplicate of Alex Rodriguez’s 2009 World Series ring which was put up for auction by his cousin, Yuri Sucart.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.