E. Powell Miller’s collection includes some of the rarest cards.
Rochester-Rochester Hills, MI
By MIKE SCOTT (Open Post) – April 27, 2011 11:16 am ET
When E. Powell Miller begins to talk about baseball, it’s easy to overlook that he is one of the most successful and highest-profile litigation lawyers in Michigan.
The sport has particular appeal to Miller, managing partner of in Rochester and Detroit. He celebrates his love of the sport by assembling one of the most remarkable vintage baseball card collections of its kind.
His love of the game is simple and straightforward, much in line with the personality of the man – direct and to the point.
“Baseball can bring the entire community together, with people of all backgrounds,” said Miller, a passionate Detroit Tigers fan. “When the Tigers are winning, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black or white. People get into the team and just feel better about things.”
And the Tigers are winning, off to a 12-10 start this year. They begin a three-game series against the Mariners at 7:05 tonight.
A true collector
Miller, like many who grew up before baseball card collecting became a sophisticated and expensive hobby, had his old cards thrown away by parents who had no idea what future values would be. It was from the childhood loss that Miller began to rebuild his collection.
“It wasn’t long before I became interested in vintage baseball cards because they are so unique and so well made,” Miller said. Vintage baseball cards refer to cards often made by tobacco or food manufacturers.
One set that drew his attention was the T-206 produced from 1909-1911 by the American Tobacco Company. Cards were added to cigarette and loose tobacco packs through 16 different brands. They are desired by the baseball card collecting community because larger size, rarity and lithographic quality. The set includes 523 cards and Miller owns all but one – the extremely rare Joe Doyle error card — it’s believed that less than 10 exist.
Miller has the T-206 Honus Wagner card, which has been sold for as much as $2.3 million in recent years. He has accumulated most of his cards through eBay and other online auctions. One seller from Georgia drove to Michigan to deliver an Eddie Plank card from the T-206 series.
An even rarer group of baseball cards Miller owns is one-third of the Plow’s Candy cards from 1912. No single collector has developed a complete set of 25 cards. The high-quality photographs of the players make them very desirable.
Hopes for a card museum
Miller’s cards are appraised by Professional Sports Authenticator, one of the best known card grading companies in the United States.
Cards are graded from 1-10 based on condition. The higher the grade, the more the card is worth. Miller looks for cards that would grade at 7 or higher.
According to PSA, Miller has the 5th-ranked set of T-206 cards in the world in terms of quality.
“I have perhaps 1,000 or so vintage cards but I have thousands of other baseball cards,” Miller said.
He hopes to open a museum or offer a public showing of his baseball card collection in Rochester. In addition to his cards, Miller has many other baseball collectibles, including game-used bats from Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson.
He considers baseball the perfect game. “The bases are perfectly situated so that the fastest guy won’t always be safe and the slowest guy can still be a very good offensive player,” Miller said. “I think it is the greatest game ever invented when you consider all the strategy that goes into it.”Download