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Wagner HBO Real Sports...what do you think?

August 14 2006 at 10:54 PM
DJ  (Login OJ-Collector)


Real Sports With Byant Gumbel goes one-on-one with NBC Sports Chariman Dick Ebersol and examines the mystery of the hottest baseball collective. Premieres Tuesday, August 15 at 10pm ET/PT. It will be rerun throughout the week on a number of the different HBO channels.

While Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner hung up his spikes more than 85 years ago, he is still the hottest commodity in the sports collectible field. With only about 50 copies believed to exist, his 1909 T206 baseball card is the most sought-after baseball card in the world. This August, in Binghamton, NY, two Cincinnati men will attempt to sell one of those tiny pieces of cardboard for perhaps as much as one million dollars amidst questions about its authenticity. In collaboration with Sports Illustrated, REAL SPORTS correspondent Bernard Goldberg examines the history of this tantalizing card and explores the current controversy. Is the new buyer really purchasing the holy grail of collectibles?

Should be interesting how they handle the latest attempt to pass along a fraudulent piece on a sale that never happened.

Since I know that a hearty thread will start on this, thought I would start it and if I have nothing going on Tuesday night, will transcribe the show for those who don't have the pay channel or haven't seen the episode yet.


A little rough around the edges...but you get the jest.

Bernie: "This is where the story ends, in a run down strip mall in Binghampton, NY. It is Saturday. There is one item that won't come cheap at all. One baseball card they say won't come cheap at all and that's a 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card."

"This little card has taken over your lives" says the interviewer, Bernie Goldberg.
"Yes it has! Yes it has!" says Ray Edwards. Edwards and John Cobb are cousin's in Cincinnati who own the card and the dream that comes with it.

"Before the hammer comes down for the last time today, Cobb and Edwards will turn them into millionaires. There's one tiny hitch. Many think it's a fake, a countefiet, not worth the paper it's printed on. That's why it's here in Binghampton so far, no one had been willing to buy it anywhere wlse."

"Is this frustrating for you guys?" says Goldberg.
"Very frustrating. It's like having a lottery ticket that you can't cash it and you know that number came up." says Edwards.

Back in Cincinnati, Cobb, who had seen magician David Copperfield tear it up in an trick based on illusion said "I got that card". John Cobb had been collecting anything he can get his hands on since he was a kid.

(video of John Cobb going through a tupperwear box that housed current Superman comics, new trading cards, Pokemon, Kung Fu magazine, Star Wars collectibles and a Charles Barkley card).

"I have been a collector of many things" said Cobb.

Including a piece of buried treasure where he bought this Honus Wagner twenty years ago for $1,800 at an estate sale.

They were ready to cash in on eBay but when one lawyer saw this on the local news, he nearly fell of my chair.

"I'm not saying they stole my card. All I know is I had a Honus Wagner card in this office that looked identical to that appeared on eBay....that was my card", says James Kidney.

The one that vanished from his office showed up on eBay, six miles from where Cobb and Edwards lived. Kidney says that the card was not real, just a novelty item and he went straight to the police.

"I was concerned about the people who were going to buy it." says Kidney.

Cobb and Edwards say that they had nothing to do with it. Ebay still cancelled the auction.

Looking for proof that the card was real, the cousins came to Steve Walter, a well known card deal who said it was 100% sure it was a grade a fake. It took him 2 seconds to come to that conclusion.

"We have probably had four of those come in here in thirteen years" says Walter.

Back To Joe Orlando. When asked how many fakes are out there to every original one, Orlando said: "Hundreds, if not thousands".

Orlando has not seen the Cobb and Edwards card in person, but also says that he doesn't need to.

"Down by the lettering, everything is one consistent capital lettering. formation...and it goes into smaller..." etc.

But Cobb and Edwards have ignored the experts and have spent the last four years trying to prove that they have the real thing. Piling up a stack of research binders and a lot of sleepless nights.

"I have been obsessed to a point where I block everything out. In a relationship that can be a problem. Trying to solve the mystery." says Edwards.

"From what I see, I think this card is real" says Arnie Shwed, a master printer. "I think it was printed around early 1900...1906 to doubts."

Shwed says that it was printed in an old fashion press and that the paper in the card is just as old fashion.

"The way the paper was woven and manufcaturerd is far different then anything I saw printed since 1965 and suggested to have the paper anaylzed" says Shwed.

They went to Walter Ranton (sp?), the expert who helped the FBI crack the Unimbomber case. He did a 6 hour chemical evaluation. His conculsion was that the card had some fiber components that were in early 1900's and missing all paper made since then 1920's had.

"To try and counterfeit this thing." says Ranton. "It would be impossible. You would need an antique printing press... paper sits 70-100 it will fall apart, moisture in air. The knowledge to work the press."

Armed with scientific proof, Edwards and Cobb went back to eBay to sell again and (and again) as bids got as high as $200K, not Honus Wagner money though. Not even close.

Back to Joe Orlando: (about all this scientific data) :"It is not enough!"

Without the support of hobby insiders, they turned to Bob Connolly, a former cable TV appraiser who told them their card was worth $1 million and he was shopping the card around. HBO Real Sports caught up with Connolly in New York City to show a card to a broker.

(Connolly emphatically slams the oversized lucite protected card on a glass table with a little spin to a man with a crazy mustache and a loud shirt that went by the name of Mike Mango).

"Seems fine to me" says the Mango. "I will want to touch it at some point but everything looks to be in order...they all the feel the same so when my fingers touch this one, I will know."

One man has a warning for him...(dum, dum, DUM!) Joe Orlando who has invited Cobb and Edwards repeatedly to show the card at PSA. PSA is about the only place they have refused which makes them wonder.

"If they are as confident as they say they are, they are leaving potentially hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars by not having it certfied." says Orlando.

"If they say its fake, they get nothing?" says Goldberg.

"My guess is that they don't want to face the truth" says Orlando.

"He has already made up his mind that the card is a what it is. I just want the public to look at the facts and the sceintifc proof that we have." says Edwards.

Which brings us back to where this story ends. Bob Connolly's auction house.

(Mike Mango is rubbing the card in a semi-rough fashion)

"I'm looking for a $300,000 opening bid....(crickets)...any interest?"
"Last call at $300,000! Pass!"
Not one bid was made.

"It was a little glossy and I didn't feel like the thickness was correct there were too many alarms and bells ringing" says Mango.

Ray Edwards and Cobb are where they started. "The fight continues...take that chance. Life is nothing but a chance" says Edwards.

This message has been edited by OJ-Collector on Aug 15, 2006 11:25 PM

 Respond to this message   

(Login z28jd)

Re: Reminder:Tuesday, HBO Real Sports 10 P.M East @ Wagner T206

August 14 2006, 11:53 PM 

I wish the show asked someone like me to give my personal opinion on the card because i have the exact same reprint theyre trying to push off as real.Id bring it to them so they can see its the same card,let them take a look at my financial records so they can see im poor and then id take my reprint out of its toploader and bend the card in half for them as my proof of when their card was actually made and what its worth.I think ive seen,held and owned enough t206s to be considered an expert.

Its a joke theyre getting any airtime at all unless theyre going to be berated in public

(Login drc1)

Re: Reminder:Tuesday, HBO Real Sports 10 P.M East @ Wagner T206

August 15 2006, 12:17 AM 

I talked to the writer of the Cincinnati newspaper article after the article was published, and he told me he personally assumed the card was a fake. I don't see how an HBO reporter would come to a different conclusion, though the show may have a balance of viewpoints for aethetic purposes.

This message has been edited by drc1 on Aug 15, 2006 12:38 AM


(Login B.C.Daniels)

yeah but.................

August 15 2006, 3:29 AM 

what do you think???

(Login OJ-Collector)

Re: Reminder:Tuesday, HBO Real Sports 10 P.M East @ Wagner T206

August 15 2006, 10:28 PM 

Like the two boys with the card (who say they are obsessed with the card), this story has me obsessed. Very interesting story and I will transcribe the "fantastic" story for the VBC Forum to read.


joe brennan
(Login 2dueces)

Re: Reminder:Tuesday, HBO Real Sports 10 P.M East @ Wagner T206

August 15 2006, 10:49 PM 

DJ please do. I'm interested how they portray the owners of the card.

People said it was a million dollar wound. But the government must keep that money, cause I ain't never seen a penny of it.

(Login OJ-Collector)

Re: Reminder:Tuesday, HBO Real Sports 10 P.M East @ Wagner T206

August 15 2006, 11:23 PM 

Transcribed (as best as I can). Fingers tired.

Who is Mike Mango?



peter ullman
(Login ullmandds)

Re: Wagner HBO Real Sports...what do you think?

August 15 2006, 11:37 PM 

the piece was portrayed the 2 scammers as hopeful dudes who truly believe they have the winning lottery ticket. The piece did give the general impression that the card was fake...which was good!

pete in mn

Jeff Lowe
(Login jeffrompa)

Re: Wagner HBO Real Sports...what do you think?

August 15 2006, 11:48 PM 

That printing guy they talked to couldnt have been more off-based . Especially in the area of paper quality and durability . They over looked all the obvious ways to forge and fake a card . I can show you paper 100 years older that looks better than that card . I can understand why PSA wouldnt say they dont want more of these coming and getting so much attention . Biggest thing I think it showed is the two owners of the card as just people looking for money for a questionable card .



(Login z28jd)

Re: Wagner HBO Real Sports...what do you think?

August 15 2006, 11:57 PM 

They should just say theyve spent the last 4 years looking for a sucker with money and no knowledge.An example of a real Wagner can be found on the internet in many places and if they really want to know, just go to the Hall of Fame,be as discreet as they want and compare the hall of fame example to theirs.Obviously they dont want to know the truth because theres plenty of experts who dont have to do more than an eye test to see its not real,but they dont want their opinion,no matter how many people with nothing against them could give an honest expert opinion.Im willing to bet with the money and time theyve spent with this card they couldve done something much more constructive and maybe,just maybe,made money honestly.

I doubt the story of how much they paid for the card too but if its true theyve spent much more than $1800 trying to find someone else to negate their mistake and i have a feeling theyre not done trying.They couldve saved alot of money by buying a few t206 low grade commons off ebay and comparing them or just attending a big card show.

No one will ever accuse them of not being persistant though!


(Login DCWD)

Re: Wagner HBO Real Sports...what do you think?

August 16 2006, 12:12 AM 

i found it interesting that this lawyer who is 6 miles from them had a wagner stolen from his office???? kind of a twist to the story. these 2 guys came off as scammers. the piece fell short of calling them thieves.

Judge Dred (Fred)
(Login JudgeDred2)

Re: Wagner HBO Real Sports...what do you think?

August 16 2006, 1:56 AM 

That was an interesting segment to watch. I enjoyed the Josh Hamilton and Philadelphia Polo pieces more though. I can't believe that these guys just don't have the card sent to PSA or SGC for authentication. Just get it over with. I also find it hard to believe that someone with little or no knowledge of baseball cards would put out $1800 for something that they didn't know about. I mean there are some pretty stupid saps in this world but come on now, how many people would do something that stupid. I think that $1800 is a lot of money to those guys. It'd have been interesting to have them show the proof of purchase of that card. I somehow doubt that the one guy paid 18 cents for it.

(Login barrysloate)


August 16 2006, 8:18 AM 

I didn't get to see the show but I am not surprised at how it was handled. I expected that they would offer both schools of thought, as if the believers and nonbelievers each have a valid case, and that therefore the jury is still out on whether or not it is authentic. As such, the segment was worthless drivel.


Tom Boblitt
(Premier Login autograf)


August 16 2006, 8:32 AM 

fake card. Unfortunately, I think the two dupes that own it are just that--dupes.....wanting to hit easy street and not have $1800 they got suckered on be wasted. If they REALLY spent $1800. And who is this card buyer that looks like Leroy Nieman on crack? Never heard of him.....Surprised they haven't been back on the board to defend themselves......


steve f
(Login fdnyladder7)

They're loathesome and repulsive, yet I couldn't look away.

August 16 2006, 8:50 AM 

Their sequel will be titled, "Snakes On The Take"

In defense, I have handled dozens and that is undoubtably an authentic screwdown.


Tom Boblitt
(Premier Login autograf)

We'll take.........

August 16 2006, 10:01 AM 

the Kramer........


(Login boxingcardman)


August 16 2006, 10:25 AM 

We litigators have an expression. It isn't pretty but it is an accurate portrayal of how the expert situation works: "Whore Shopping". If you search around enough you can find someone with credentials to say anything you need him to say. That's why I think these guys are fronting for a very savvy lawyer or businessman. That HBO piece gives them publicity that can only help them since it showed them as well intentioned rather than as total scammers, a la a Mike Wallace piece on 60 Minutes. Believe me, they are trolling for a wealthy viewer who wants to buy the card under the radar so he can say he owns a Wagner, and they may just find one.

(Login barrysloate)


August 16 2006, 10:45 AM 

As was stated in a previous post, these guys will never go away until they find a buyer. Of course, after this buyer sends the card to PSA or SGC, how does he get his money back? I understand that the two owners see this card as their meal ticket, but I still can not fathom why Bob Connelly was willing to get involved in this sordid mess. This only brought him very negative publicity, not to mention thousands of dollars wasted on pointless advertising and marketing.


Tom Boblitt
(Premier Login autograf)

He got thousands of $$........

August 16 2006, 11:08 AM 

from selling those W600's that fell into his lap, so I guess he's trying to be a bigger player. You can tell from the settings of the HBO piece (dilapidated strip mall) that he's not quite ready for prime time like the boys at Mastronet, REA, Hunt, Lelands, etc....Binghamton, while I'm sure very picturesque, ain't NYC......sadly, he did have some legit T206's which even casually looking at them and looking at this farce of a Wagner card anyone can tell the difference. That begs another question, why did he (and the HBO piece) show PSA-graded T206's in his auction and then the Wagner was not.


Daniel Bretta
(Login slidekellyslide)
Network 54 Moderator

Re: Wagner HBO Real Sports...what do you think?

August 16 2006, 11:59 AM 

My wife was watching that segment with me and she said "I can see you're getting mad". The capper was the last statement by Bernie Goldberg when he proclaimed that it's a possibility that the card was reprinted before WWI.

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