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America's pastime
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As the 2013 baseball season began Sunday and Opening Day kicked off at Turner Field in Atlanta Monday, it’s not only time for peanuts and Cracker Jacks but also for the crack of the bat, the smell of the leather and the trading of baseball cards.

Baseball cards have been a fan favorite since being put in cigarette packages in the late 1800s. The coveted items can be collected, traded and invested in. Cards now contain autographs, jersey patches and, in some cases, strands of hair from players ranging to prospects to starters to Hall of Famers.

Some of Newton County’s own have even seen their own images on baseball cards. Here’s a list of a few of Newton High’s former baseball standouts’ own baseball cards, and some of their top cards and approximate listed prices, according to eBay:

Luke Allen
Luke Allen played for Newton and was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in 1996. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 10, 2002 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Allen played six games for the Dodgers, getting seven at bats and tallying a double and two runs.

In the offseason, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Jason Romano and had two at bats for the Rockies in 2003.

Allen played 11 years in the minors, starting with Great Falls in the rookie league and finishing in AAA Minatitlan in Mexico in 2008.

Allen hit .291 over his minor league career with 138 home runs and 705 RBI and 55 triples.
Cards: 1998 Bowman Luke Allen autograph $2.70; a sign of history card $10–$20; Luke Allen 2000 just 2K minors signed $3.99; a Luke Allen signed game bat $13.99.

Tim Hyers
Tim Hyers went to Newton High School and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round of the 1990 amateur draft.

The San Diego Padres selected him in the 1993 rule 5 draft from the Blue Jays. He made his major league debut in 1994 with the San Diego Padres, playing in 52 games that season. Hyers hit .254 with seven RBI and nine walks in 118 at bats. After playing six games with the Padres in 1995, he signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1996 and had two hits in 26 at bats.

Hyers saw the most Major League action of his career in 1999, getting 81 at bats with the Florida Marlins, hitting .222 with four doubles and 12 RBI.

Hyers spent six of his nine minor league seasons in AAA, putting together a .271 batting average with 33 home runs, 20 triples, 152 doubles, 248 runs and 219 RBI.

Cards: Tim Hyers Knoxville Smokies 1994 classic rookie $5; 1994 collectors choice signature Tim Hyers $1.50; signed autographed game used bat around $69.99.

Brian Moon
Brian Moon played his high school baseball at Newton and was drafted in the 36th round of the 1995 MLB Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros. He then went to Southern Union State until 1996 when he was drafted in the 48th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.

He spent five seasons in the minor leagues, starting with the Helena Brewers of the Pioneer rookie league, hitting .282 with five doubles in 49 games. He made it to AAA with the Indianapolis Indians, a Milwaukee Brewers’ team, and the Tacoma Raiders of the Seattle Mariners organization.

In his nine minor league seasons, Moon hit .230 with 15 home runs, 245 RBI, 15 stolen bases and 261 runs scored.

Cards: 1997 Helena Brewers Brian Moon autograph $2.99; 2004 San Antonio missions Brian moon $1.99.

Richard Stahl
Richard Stahl went to Newton High and was drafted out of high school as the 18th overall pick, in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles.

He was one of the highest-regarded prospects to come out of Newton County, bypassing a scholarship to Georgia Tech for a reported $2 million signing bonus with the Orioles.

Stahl never reached Baltimore, due to shoulder injuries, playing six years in the major leagues, making AAA once in 2006.

In his seven minor league seasons, Stahl pitched 523 1/3 innings, striking out 409 batters with one complete game shutout and one save. He had a 4.23 ERA and 1.628 WHIP.

Cards: 200 Richard Stahl autograph $2.99 signed; 2001 Delmarva Shorebirds Richard Stahl signed; 2001 Topps traded rookie relic jersey Richard Stahl around $4.

Matt Easterday
Matt Easterday, a Newton High graduate, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 39th round of the 1997 amateur draft. He then went to Georgia Southern and was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 21st round in 2000.

Easterday played from 2000-2003, reaching as high as the AAA level in the Marlins organization. Playing 15 games with the Calgary Cannons in 2001, he had nine hits and drove in three runs in 46 at bats. Easterday’s best season was that same year at A Kane County, where he hit .262 in 72 games. Before being promoted, Easterday had 561 hits, including two home runs and seven doubles in 195 at bats.

Cards: 2001 Kane County Cougars card $1.99.

Tyler Austin
Tyler Austin starred for Heritage High School in Conyers and was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 13th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.

He has risen to one of the top prospects in baseball, being rated No. 75 by and 77 by Baseball America before the current season.

In 2011, Austin reached low-A baseball, hitting .354 with six home runs and 36 RBI.

Last season, he excelled, being selected to the All-Star future game. Reaching AA Trenton, Austin had 17 home runs and 80 RBI with 133 hits and a .322 batting average in 413 at bats.

Cards: Tyler Austin 2012 Rize Autograph $72; 2012 Bowman ChromeTyler Austin autograph $6; 2012 bowman Chrome Gold Refractor Tyler Austin $299.