This Is The Most Expensive Baseball Card Ever Sold

Collecting baseball cards has been an American pastime for nearly as long as baseball itself. Sports cards in general really. Some of them go for a "pretty penny," except that penny tends to be made of solid gold. Most cards are worth less than the sleeves collectors buy to store them in, but there are a few rarities out there that sell for more money than most people make in a decade.

Baseball cards actually come from humble beginnings as cigarette pack inserts. Little pieces of cardboard that prevented the "smokes" from getting squashed in somebody's pocket. Okay, they've been around since the 1860s, per Newsday, but the cigarette packs that made them popular right around the turn of the 20th century. If your parents didn't risk lung cancer, you didn't get the latest rookie card. Not until the 1930s when baseball cards started popping up in chewing gum packs. It wasn't until the 80s that playing cards were really mass produced in packs so even the average Joe could collect in the quantities necessary to make his significant other think twice about dating him.

Today, the baseball card industry is worth billions of dollars. The collectible trading market isn't far behind. You might want to sit down. The most expensive baseball card ever sold wasn't exactly cheap.

This shortstop from the Pittsburg Pirates doesn't get short-changed

Does the name "Johannes Peter "Honus" Wagner" ring a bell? What about his nickname, "The Flying Dutchman"? You'd be a serious baseball aficionado if it did. Wagner played professional baseball from 1897 until 1917, so it's not a wonder why the name doesn't ring a bell. He was a shortstop who played most of his 21 seasons for the Pittsburg Pirates and the first player to ever have his name printed on a Louisville Slugger. You can find his name at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, so he had to have been pretty good.

Wagner is also the face on the most expensive baseball card ever sold. Specifically, the T206 Wagner. The card only has 50 known copies, out of 200 produced, circulating the globe, making it a proverbial "really darn expensive needle in a haystack." One copy of the card sold for $3.12 million in 2013, breaking the previous record by over $1 million. The auction that handled the sale predicts the card to eventually break the record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold. That record is currently held by a game-worn 1920 Babe Ruth jersey. Mmmm... smell that sweat!