LANCASTER (AP) - When the Topps sports card company puts together its Topps Museum Collection boxes, it sprinkles all kinds of prizes into the mix: autographs, uniform swatches, nameplates from famous players' bats.
This year, the top prize was a Babe Ruth autograph worth thousands of dollars. And local collector Greg Gehman was the one who found it.
"I was the luckiest person that opened one of those packs," he said.
Gehman said he bought the collection that included the autograph on a whim from VSM Sports Card Outlet on Route 30.
VSM's sister company, Wheatland Auction Services, calls it "one of the nicest cut Babe Ruth autographs we have ever seen." Wheatland is auctioning it online on Gehman's behalf.
VSM and Wheatland are both located at 2160 Lincoln Highway East. Chuck Whisman owns VSM and his wife, Stacy, owns Wheatland.
Beckett Grading Services gave the item a score of 9.5 points out of 10, with a grade of 9 for the signature itself.
Gehman, who owns the ABC Lancaster Auto Auction in East Petersburg, said he stopped by VSM a couple of months ago to pick up some auction items he'd won. He decided to browse a bit while he was there.
The staff showed him the Topps Museum Collection boxed sets. They cost $120 each and contain a mix of cards and memorabilia. Sometimes the contents are worth a lot, sometimes they aren't.
"It's like gambling, I guess," Gehman said.
Gehman walked out with all three boxes that VSM had in stock. "Don't ask me why," he said, calling it a "spur of the moment thing."
He didn't even open the boxes for a couple of weeks, but when he did, he realized he'd hit the jackpot.
"There's only one person that has this card," he said.
That person won't be Gehman. He's not interested in keeping it, he said. Hopefully, someone will buy it who will really enjoy it, and that person will be able to sell it later on for even more, he said.
Bidding ended at 7 p.m. last Sunday. A Scranton-area man submitted the top bid of $8,625.
"It was a very active auction, with bidders participating from around the U.S. and Canada," said Stacey Whisman, Wheatland owner and auctioneer.
Lancaster Newspapers reporter David O'Connor contributed to this article.