Baseball cards answers church's prayers

July 1, 2009 3:34:42 PM PDT
A box of baseball cards are about to make an enormous contribution to a Catholic church in North Philadelphia.They're part of a rare collection of baseball cards originally sold a hundred years ago in 5-cent cigarette packs. In 2 weeks, they'll be auctioned at the major league baseball all star game FanFest in St. Louis.

The locally based auctioneers expect collectors to spend in the ballpark of $30k for them.

"Desirability, rarity, condition. They are all factors," Cheryl Goyda of Hunt Auctions said.

The 450 cards belonged to David Smith until the Malachy Church volunteer gave them to the North Philadelphia parish to raise money for it's organ renovation project.

The 140-year-old organ was damaged during a ceiling collapse a decade ago.

The repair price tag is $350,000.

The baseball cards, collected by Smith's father, were just gathering dust.

"They were in a box in my dresser drawer that for a good number of years, never even taken them out to look at them to be honest with you," Smith said.

In April, the cards almost sold for $5 at a church silent auction until a visitor from the Baseball Hall of Fame spotted them and suggested they be appraised.

"That would have been a shame for the church, that's all I can say. Thank heaven someone intervened," Goyda said.

It turns out the baseball card profits will help repair an organ that was built by the grandfather of the Philadelphia man who wrote the song, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

It raises the question, coincidence or something more?

"Definitely divine intervention, so much more than coincidence at work here. Absolutely," Father Kevin Lawrence of St. Malachy Church said.

In two weeks, the baseball cards will be among those in the collection that's being sold to pipe in more of the money that's needed to restore the old organ and bring back to its days of glory.

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