Honus Wagner

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Honus Wagner was a baseball player. He was born on February 24, 1874 and died December 6, 1955. He played shortstop for Louisville (1897-99) and Pittsburgh (1900-17). Wagner was rated as the best shortstop of all times in the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. Wagner also held the record for most career hits until he was eclipsed by Ty Cobb. His lifetime batting average, with 10,449 at bats was 0.328. The Flying Dutchman was one of the original inductees in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York.

Honus Wagner and tobacco

In the early 1900s, trading cards were featured prominently on many cigarette packs. Elaborate series of cards covering many topics were issued to develop brand loyalty. Sporting cards were popular, and these cigarette cards were the original baseball cards.

Around 1910-11, the American Tobacco Company issued a Honus Wagner card in packs of one its cigarette brands. Wagner, an opponent of smoking, objected to American's use of his name as a promotion for tobacco. He took legal action and forced the cigarette maker to withdraw the card. A few cards remained in circulation, and, while not the rarest of all cigarette cards, it became by far the most valuable. In 1988, experts placed its value at auction in the range of $30,000.[1]

By some accounts (not verified), the card is now worth half a million dollars.


  1. [ http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/tyn30c00 Honus Wagner] Report. By John Downey Slade. October 22, 1988. Tobacco Institute Bates No. TI00791668/1669

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