Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Discovery of fortunes is in the cards

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It’s like finding the Mona Lisa in the attic.

Gerald Carroll sits behind a selection of old baseball cards from the early 1900s he found in his grandfather's attic. The single card at the very bottom is Ty Cobb, who lived in Augusta when the card was produced.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Gerald Carroll sits behind a selection of old baseball cards from the early 1900s he found in his grandfather's attic. The single card at the very bottom is Ty Cobb, who lived in Augusta when the card was produced.
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– Karl Kissner

My sister e-mailed last week to tell me the news. A family in Ohio had found a collection of century-old baseball cards in a grandfather’s attic. We ran the story in the paper the next day.

The cards – in almost perfect condition – might be worth millions and featured some of the true greats of the era, including Augusta favorite Ty Cobb.

My sister’s attention was inspired by one of our family’s lesser legends of loss – the time my own baseball cards were left in an attic when we moved. At least that was the story we
developed after a grocery bag full of baseball cards failed to be found when we left for a new town in the early 1960s.

They weren’t my best cards. No, those were stored in a sturdy shoebox that usually accompanied me on any overnight trip and featured the 100 or so I truly treasured – Mays and Mantle and Frank Robinson among them. But there were some good ones, including Ted Williams and Roger Maris and many, many more. Like I said, it was a grocery bag full.

Their value was certainly nowhere near that of the Ohio attic discovery, which features about 700 cards that could fetch up to $3 million, according to the Associated Press.

But the talk of those cards and the memory of mine reminded me of something else.

Something just like this once happened in Augusta.

I vaguely remembered one night years ago when a guy walked into The Chronicle newsroom with a box and a story. The box contained 200 or more old baseball cards from the early 1900s. He found them while cleaning out the attic of an old house in Harrisburg.

I also remembered we did a feature story about it, so I went back in the archives to look around and there it was. In the Oct. 1, 1981, edition of The Augusta Chronicle, a sizable portion of the sports page tells the story and shows the picture of Gerald Carroll and his cards.

Carroll said he found them in the attic of his grandfather’s house, which had been located in the 1800 block of Greene Street but had been moved when the Calhoun Expressway was built. Carroll, who remembered his grandfather as a big baseball fan, renovated the house and in the process found the cards.

Among the ones he spread out that night in The Chronicle newsroom were Christy Mathewson, Rube Waddell, Joe Tinker and two Ty Cobbs. He told us he would probably sell them.

“I’d like to find somebody around here who really wants them. I’d like to know they’re being cared for.”

Did he? I don’t know.

There are a lot of Carrolls in the phone book, and I called several and left messages. I didn’t get any calls back, so I’m still waiting. But if you know Gerald or what happened to his cards, let me know.

I like attic mystery stories with happy endings.


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