After a lifetime as a baseball card collector, Houston trading cards dealer Todd Nelkin is preparing to give up a part of his past to ensure what he hopes will be a significant part of his future.
Nelkin, whose family has owned a sports collectibles store in Houston for more than 30 years, and his wife, Ula, are selling a 1999 Donruss Elite Passing The Torch card signed by Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs Walter Payton and Barry Sanders and graded BGS 10 (Pristine). They plan to use the proceeds to pay for the in vitro fertilization procedure that they hope will bring them their first child.
“We’ve tried in vitro twice, both times without success,” Todd Nelkin said. “The second time, Ula had to undergo emergency surgery after an ectopic pregnancy. So the third time will be our last, and best, attempt to have a family of our own.”
The eBay auction opened last week and closes Thursday night. As of early Tuesday, bidding had reached $9,900 and the card had generated 41 bids (see the auction here). Sanders heard of the couple’s plan and donated a signed helmet being sold in a separate eBay auction to help the Nelkins. The couple is also selling a signed Steve Young jersey.
The Nelkin family has owned HLT&T Sports, named for father Harold, mother Lillian and sons Ted and Todd in Houston since the 1970s. Todd also repackages cards from the 1970s through the 2000s for sale at Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL arenas and stadiums around the country.
He and Ula, who works at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, are devoted sports fans; in fact, they were married in 2011 at Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets, in the first wedding hosted by the arena.
The Payton-Sanders card was produced in 1999 by Donruss and only 100 copies exist. Nelkin’s card is the only one Beckett has ever tabbed with a 10 grade.
"I hate to part with the card," Nelkin said, "but there is nothing in the world more important to me then to have the chance to be a father. “