Like every sport, baseball is replete with stories of hopes fulfilled and laments about what might have been. The West Virginia Treasurer's Office understands this dynamic.
This summer, officials there came across a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball trading card in an abandoned safe-deposit box. Although avid fans of the game might know that Wagner batted over .300 for 17 consecutive seasons and was a charter member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the name didn't ring a bell with anyone in the treasurer's office.
However, when the card was put on display at the state fair, along with other unusual unclaimed property, a collector spotted it and shared the news that another 1909 Wagner card had recently sold for $1.1 million.
"If it woulda been a snake, it woulda bit me," says Andy Henson of the Treasurer's communications office. "I had no clue." Unfortunately for the state, an auction house quickly found the card to be a reproduction. Writing on the original cards--only 50 or 60 of which were ever made--was red, while the West Virginia card was printed in black.
Had the card been authentic, Henson says efforts would have been made to find the original owner. If nobody then came forward to claim it, the card would have been auctioned off, with a percentage of the interest going to the state.