LOS ANGELES -- What could be better than becoming a millionaire after finding seven vintage baseball cards while cleaning out your late great-grandfather's house?
How about finding an eighth?
The family that two years ago made one of the greatest finds in sports collectibles history when it found seven Ty Cobb baseball cards printed between 1909 and 1911 has now found one more in the matching set.
"It falls under the category of 'you can't make this stuff up,'" said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator of Newport Beach, California. The company verified the new card and valued it at $250,000.
The first seven cards were in a rumpled paper bag that may well have ended up in the trash if someone didn't peek inside.
"The initial discovery, it was a real shock to them," Orlando said. "They put the cleaning on hold for a while. ... Later they knew what they were looking for, and in a dusty box between two books, there was another one."
The great-grandfather apparently had no idea that he was leaving a fortune to his descendants.
"He wasn't even a collector," Orlando said. "He just held on to these cards that were most likely given to him after buying a particular tobacco product." (Baseball cards were associated with tobacco, not bubble gum, in their earliest days.)
The family, which is from the rural South and wants to remain anonymous, intends to keep this one as a memento.
There are now 24 known copies of the card featuring the famed Detroit Tigers slugger that on the back reads, "Ty Cobb -- King of the Smoking Tobacco World."
That's less than half the known remaining number of Honus Wagner cards from the same time that have long been considered the holy grail of collecting.
While the surge in numbers for the Cobb cards may have diminished the value somewhat by making them less rare, Orlando said the excitement surrounding them, and the possibility that more could exist, have made up the difference.
"Sometimes a card can be so rare that no one bothers to talk about it," Orlando said. "This raised the importance of the Ty Cobb card."