Lawyer’s office is lined with rare baseball cards
By DAVID ASHENFELTER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Lawyers and clients know E. Powell Miller as a high-powered class-action attorney who has scored multi- million-dollar verdicts and settlements against big corporations.
But the 49-year-old Rochester lawyer has another side: He collects baseball cards — lots of ’em.
A huge display case packed with hundreds of colorful and rare baseball cards from the early 1900s greets visitors to his office.
Miller’s trove of T206 cards — painted player portraits that were pack- aged with cigarettes in 1909-1911 — is ranked fifth internationally, according to the Professional Sports Authenticator service.
Miller says he’s one card shy of owning a complete 524-card set: the one of New York Highlands pitcher Judd (Slow Joe) Doyle that has him playing for the wrong team.
Yes, he has a card of Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner, the rarest of T206 cards. And his entire collection is guarded by a security alarm.
Miller, a lifelong baseball fan, said he began collecting baseball cards as a child.
He grew up in Detroit, the son of a lawyer and a college sociology professor.
After graduating from the University of Detroit High School in 1979, he enrolled at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he was a national debate champion.
He graduated from Georgetown in 1983 and Wayne State University Law School in 1986, then joined Honigman Miller, a prestigious Detroit law firm, representing clients in commercial disputes.
He left in 1994 to open his own law firm, which has grown to 20 lawyers.
Miller has scored several legal victories, earning him top ratings in legal publications.
In 2009, he won a $20-million settlement in a securities lawsuit against former Ann Arbor-based ProQuest, a publisher of educational materials, after financial-reporting irregularities caused its stock value to plummet in 2006.
These days, he’s co-lead counsel in a class-action against American International Group Inc., whose angry investors accused the company of misleading them about its exposure to the subprime mortgage fiasco.
“I’m a big advocate that Michigan lawyers are just as good as New York and California lawyers,” Miller said.
He said he got interested in T206 cards 10 years ago because they’re colorful, artistic and represent baseball’s golden era.
“Clients love them, and so do opposing lawyers,” Miller said, adding that the cards are a great conversation starter.
He has other collectibles, including a basketball Michael Jordan signed when he was in college, a postcard legendary Yankees slugger Babe Ruth wrote to his butcher shortly before his death in 1948 and a letter George Washington penned to another general during the Revolutionary War.
“A lot of people fill their offices with stuff about themselves,” Miller said. “I like to fill mine with things great people touched and hope some of it rubs off.
He said he hopes someday to donate his growing collection to a museum so others can enjoy it as much as he has.