Mid 1490s The Joust Armour
The good souls of the clergy are offended by these deadly pleasures. Gradually regulations appear to provide some safety. In France the competitors are separated by a barrier that avoids the frontal shock of the two galloping horses. The shield is replaced by a reinforcement of the breastplate. The helmet is extended by a spectacular frog mouth that reduces the risk of penetration of the lance but almost completely obstructs the jouster's field of vision. The tips of the lances are bent and blunted.
Maximilian of Habsburg who will become Emperor Maximilian I is passionate about jousting. He likes to be nicknamed the Last of the Knights. Two styles are practiced. Gestech is the traditional European style. Scharfrennen is a German specialty which aims to unhorse the opponent.
The joust armour has its culmination during the reign of Maximilian, and especially on the occasion of the festivities of his third marriage in 1494. The equipment of the Gestech, named Stechzeug, is the heaviest armor of medieval times, because of the accumulation of security rules far beyond the flexibility needed for a war armour.
To ensure the success of his tournaments, Maximilian has the armour pieces prepared out of the responsibility of his guests. Several workshops in Southern Germany including Augsburg and Nuremberg specialize in one or the other equipment.
In the 1930s the Zeughaus, a museum linked to the Berlin arsenal, assembles a complete Stechzeug made up of original elements from the mid-1490s. Duplicating in the museum, it is sold in 1938. It is estimated £ 500K for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 8.
1860 Rival Teams in Brooklyn
2019 SOLD for $ 180k including premium
After two rather experimental seasons, the first champion under the new rules is the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn. In the following year things already get complicated. The best players begin to mix salary and compensation. The Atlantics dominated by the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn are declared champions to avoid a riot from disappointed bettors.
A photo published in Brooklyn in carte-de-visite format on 6 x 10 cm cardboard shows a group of nine Atlantics in three ranks wearing their baseball uniform, assisted by two men in city outfits who are certainly the club's managers. One of the seated players holds a bat on his knees. Three copies are known.
One of the three was authenticated by SGC without grading, due to some shearing of the photographic paper associated with a poor condition of the cardboard. It had been kept by the brother of one of the players and had on the back a newspaper clipping that lists the nine regular players and their five substitutes of the 1859 season. It was sold for $ 180K including premium by Heritage on July 30, 2015.
Another copy in a much better condition of contrast and cleanliness is graded VG3 by SGC. It is estimated $ 150K for sale by Heritage on April 18 online from Dallas, lot 51001. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The Excelsior of Brooklyn page in Wikipedia is illustrated by a picture of the nine players from that team. The original document linked by Wikipedia identifies each of them by his position, standing from left to right. The group includes the star player Jim Creighton who joined the Excelsiors in 1860. The format of the print is not published therein.
The photos of these teams were taken in a surrounding that seems identical : a studio whose bare wall is interrupted only once by a vertical line, with a carpet of similar patterns. It seems probable that they were both made in 1860 at the time of the match whose disputed decision was referred above.
1868 The Medal of the New York Clipper
2019 sold for $ 90k including premium
In 1868 the Clipper awards medals to the best baseball players. This is the very first initiative of that kind for this sport.
At that date, everyone knows that amateurism is a lure, bypassed by all possible means. In the following year the professionalism will be admitted. Harry Wright, the son of an English-born professional cricketer, will create the first ever professional-only baseball team, the ephemeral Cincinnati Red Stockings.
The Clipper medal was only awarded in 1868. Two reasons may be suggested. Making the medals was certainly too expensive, and the champions were now motivated by the opportunity to openly get a salary.
On August 17 in Dallas, Heritage sells the Clipper Prize Medal awarded to George Wright, lot 56051 estimated $ 200K. It is entirely original except for a ribbon that joined the tie pin bearing the player's name to the main part of the jewel. It is accompanied by an autograph written by Wright when he presented this trophy to his grandson.
George Wright, who was Harry's younger brother, was considered as the best player of his time, unequaled as a defender. It is not clear if medals were also awarded to other players. Apparently the archives of the newspaper have not yet been analyzed on this point by the archeologists of baseball.
This is the earliest and most significant 19th century baseball award known, the 1868 Clipper Prize given to HOF pioneer George Wright. This award has been identified by baseball historians as the very first individual baseball player award ever createdhttps://t.co/Ocp7goyXUB pic.twitter.com/cvv2kDx748— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) August 8, 2019
1888 The King of Beaneaters
2012 SOLD 62 K$ before fees
In 1888, photography is no longer a novelty. Editions offer to the general public the views of all countries and all topics on albumen paper glued onto thick cardboard. In the USA, the most common format for that disclosure of knowledge is the "cabinet card", normalized to 4.5 x 6.5 inches (11.5 x 16.5 cm).
A manufacturer of cigarettes in New York, Goodwin and Company, exchanges photos of sport against purchasing proofs introduced in the packets of his two brands: Old Judge and Gypsy Queen. The initiative is interesting: the acquisition of photographs is no longer a separate purchase, and fans can start new cheap specialized collections.
The baseball player Michael Kelly became famous at the end of the 1886 season, when the Boston Beaneaters bought him to the Chicago White Stockings for $ 10,000, a then-record price attesting the rise in popularity of this sport. In Boston, the champion will first be nicknamed $ 10,000 Kelly and afterwards King Kelly.
On August 29 in Biddeford ME, Saco River sells a cabinet card of this mustachioed man for the Old Judge brand.Unlike most sports photos of that time, the champion is shown as a close-up portrait in street clothes. His name is identified by an incision in the negative: "Kelly, Capt / Boston."
This copy has remained in perfect contrast with artistic blur in the lower part. It illustrates the very interesting article shared by The Portland Press Herald.
In 1888, photography finally wins its popular dimension, accessible to all. Eastman releases Kodak during that year,and Goodwin is also among the first to use chromolithography, later to become the most suitable technique for mass promotional editions.
POST SALE COMMENT
The auction house had indicated that this newly discovered copy was one one of only four known, and that another one was sold in a private sale in 2005 for $ 72K.
The result, $ 62K before fees, is consistent with such a history.
1894 the athletic exposition
Pierre de Coubertin was a young educational theorist. Inspired by the spectacular development of sports in Great Britain and in the United States, he imagines an international sporting event that will promote altogether the athletic effort and the peace. The next Parisian exposition will be both grand and popular. He will apply to integrate his project therein.
On January 30, 1894, Coubertin writes his ideas on paper. He considers a stadium similar as in Olympia flanked with specialized showrooms reminding the history of athletic sports since antiquity. Modern sports such as "vélocipédie" will be included.
He deliberately excludes the military sport trainings and the professionalism considered as a shameful shift. The demonstration shows will be in free access. Cafes and shops will be banned to prevent the atmosphere considered by him as depraved of the Rue du Caire in the 1889 exhibition. At this stage the inventor does not think about competitions.
This seminal document of modern Olympism in four pages on a single sheet is estimated $ 1M by Goldin Auctions, lot 3 in an online sale ending on October 29.
In June of the same year, Coubertin convenes in Paris a committee of 49 clubs representing 13 nations. The CIO (IOC) is created and the restoration of the Olympic Games is solemnly proclaimed. The first of them will take place in Athens in 1896. The reluctance of Paris is released in spring 1899 just in time for the Jeux Olympiques to be recognized as a major element of the 1900 exposition.
1903 Americans vs Pirates
2020 SOLD for $ 247K including premium
This rivalry should not detract from the popularity of baseball, however. In 1903 the two leagues decide that the season will end with a confrontation between their respective winners of the season.
This new event takes the pompous name of World's Championship Games. From October 1 to 8, the Boston Americans of the American League meet the Pittsburg Pirates of the National League in eight games divided between the two fields. Pittsburg was at that time a preferred spelling for the city of Pittsburgh PA.
The first game takes place in Boston in front of 16,242 spectators. It is won by the visiting club on the score of 7 to 3. A Pirate scores the first home run in World Series history.
Two programs and a ticket issued for this very first game will be sold by Hunt in Louisville on November 14. The programs include of course many local advertising inserts.
Lot 357, estimated $ 250K, is a program printed in Pittsburgh. The center pages include blank score cards listing all players, with amidst them the two superchampions from that time, (Honus) Wagner and (Cy) Young. Its state of cleanliness is remarkable.
Lot 359, estimated $ 150K, is a program printed in Boston. The cover features the photo of McGreevy, a bar keeper who was the leader of the Boston team's fan club, above photos of one player from each team.
Lot 358, estimated $ 50K, is a nearly erased ticket authenticated by PSA.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM
Pittsburgh program SOLD for $ 247K
Boston program SOLD for $ 150K
Ticket SOLD for $ 47K
1904 christy mathewson the gentle pitcher
Coming back from World War with tuberculosis, Matty died prematurely in 1925 but he is not forgotten. He was in 1936 the fourth of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Hame and the only one who was then posthumously recognized. The glory of the three champions ahead of him in this inaugural vote is immense and indisputable : Ty Cobb followed by Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner tying.
Professional since 1900 with the New York Giants, the gentle Matty used to disperse his equipment at the end of season as gifts to family and friends. A bat used by him in 1905 has been faithfully preserved in the same family until 2013. Matty was not a batter and bats related to his career are extremely rare. It was sold for $ 220K including premium by Goldin on July 31, 2015.
On August 27 in Dallas, Heritage sells a game used jersey of Mathewson that had remained in the descent of one of his cousinsuntil 1992. The inscriptions were cleaned but remain partially legible. Along with the details of the garment, they allow to date it unquestionably to 1904. One of the earliest pictures in the Conlon archives supports this date.
An undershirt and a belt worn by the champion have locally discolored the garment which is otherwise in very good condition. The auction house considers that baseball jerseys used in game before 1920 are very scarce and this example comes from a champion who had been outstanding both socially and sportingly. It is offered with a guide value of $ 400K, lot 80036.
1905 The Pitcher of the Giants
2015 SOLD for $ 220K including premium
In 1936 he was among the first five players to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the only one posthumously. He had been exposed to chemical weapons during the First World War and had died in 1925 aged 45.
His technique was much ahead of his time. A rotating effect which he named the fadeaway made the ball more difficult to counter. In October 1905, his team of the New York Giants won a landslide victory in the World Series, a then recent championship that opposed late in the season the winning teams of the two main Leagues.
The Giants are celebrating their deserved victory. Matty has his bat signed by his teammates and his manager. He did not used to keep for himself the memories of his games. When he went back home in Pennsylvania, he presented the bat to a friend. The prestigious piece of equipment remained in the same family until 2013.
This bat of Hillerich brand is graded GU10 by PSA/DNA and A10 by MEARS and the signatures have been authenticated. It can not be better. It is estimated $ 500K for sale by Goldin in Chicago on July 31, lot 40. Here is the links to the release posted byAuction Report and to the website of the auction house.
The catalog states that game used bats from that time are as rare as hen's teeth, and it is the only one known to be related to Christy Mathewson.
1909 Shoeless Joe before the Fame
2016 SOLD for $ 670K including premium
Joe is the son of a peasant from South Carolina. The family is poor. Joe appreciates that he is gifted for baseball and begins playing to win some money. He is so strong that he breaks the arm of a fellow by pitching a ball and his playmates will no longer dare to face him. He will become a hitter.
He was nicknamed Shoeless Joe before his debut in the Leagues when someone noticed that he was playing in his socks. He had taken off his shoes just on that day because of a painful blister. Added to the fact that he was illiterate, this idea of a barefoot champion certainly contributed to his immense popularity. He was one of the best two hitters of his time, almost equal to Ty Cobb.
During the 1908-1909 season, Joe played ten games in Major League with the Philadelphia Athletics and spent the rest of his time in the Minor League with a team in Greenville NC. Despite that sporadic activity at the highest level he is one of the hundred players chosen by American Caramel Co. for the baseball card series now codified E90 published in 1909.
Two of these cards are in exceptional condition for their age, graded NM-MT 8 by PSA. By comparison the population of the T206 Wagner printed in the same year includes only one card in the same grade. In both cases no further card graded by PSA exceeds 5.
One of the two E90 Jackson Phila NM-MT 8 is offered by SCP Auctions in an online sale ending on August 20, lot 504. The printing is beautiful and it is perfectly clean with sharp corners and flawless edges.
Joe was prohibited from baseball in 1920 with seven other players in the Black Sox scandal for a fix in Major League. He is the only one among the eight indicted whose guilt was later questioned but his case had served as an example of bad practice and from all his glory he was only left with the shame.
1909 Honus Wagner and Co
2010 SOLD 316 K$ including premium
The lithographed cards showing baseball players are a popular topic of collection for the Americans. One of them is the object of all desires: the T-206 Honus Wagner, which may become more expensive than the whole of the 522 other images of the series together.
This is a publication made between 1909 and 1911 by the American Tobacco Company to be inserted in packs of cigarettes and tobacco, with a back advertising. T-206 is a code generated by a catalog 40 years later.
The Americans, who have good memories of the sport, know that Wagner was one of the most famous baseball players of his time. The publisher of lithographs had failed to negotiate with him for reasons that remain obscure, and his card is extremely rare. Even in a state for which any other image is a candidate for the dustbin, 6 digits prices are possible.
On July 13 in Anaheim, California, Hunt Auctions is selling a strip lithograph of five images, uncut, blank on the back side. The second from the left is Wagner. Only the central image showing another player has been spared from these folds that are so ugly when they affect a cardboard.
The auction house did not give an estimate. In the web biddings, $ 100K is already overcome. An article in Sports Collectors Daily announced on June 25 that the lot could reach 250 K $.
POST SALE COMMENT
The high price which was announced is in phase with that very special micro-sector of the art market: the T-206 Honus Wagner. The sale is successful: 316 K $ including premium.
(1909-1911) Ty Cobb and Tobacco
2018 SOLD for $ 410K including premium
The backs are advertisings for the various brands of the company : 14 for cigarettes and one for scrap tobacco. 80% of the T206 cards have Piedmont or Sweet Caporal backs.
In the field Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb are arch-rivals. Their attitudes towards the American Tobacco appear to be opposite although the details of their business are not known. Wagner withdraws early his permission to publish his only portrait that becomes the rarest image of the series.
If we consider the combinations of front and back, a card is much rarer : Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb back. The front side is one of Cobb's four common images, with his portrait on a red background. The back does not address one of the 15 brands. It displays in large capital letters "Ty Cobb" King of the Smoking Tobacco World and in tiny letters the address of the plant in North Carolina. No other player has been the subject of a specific T206 edition.
This edition is considered regular but it is indeed mysterious. Compared to the other T206s the cardboard is tougher and the image on front side has remained in bright colors as if it had been protected by a coating. Free from tobacco stains, they have not been packaged unlike the other combinations in the series.
About 22 cards are known. The grouped conditions of the major discoveries in the southern United States, 5 together in 1997 and 7 together in 2016, may suggest that the Ty Cobb back has never been available to the public.
The 2016 surfacing event is named the Lucky 7 Find. They were graded by PSA FR 1.5 (one card), Good+ 2.5 (four cards), VG+ 3.5 (one card) and VG-EX+ 4.5 (one card). The two best specimens have the highest grades awarded for this variety. The low grades attributed by PSA are here related to wear and not to print weakness.
One of the 2.5 with perfect color was sold for $ 240K including premium by Heritage on February 25, 2017. The VG+ card is estimated $ 500K for sale by Heritage in Dallas online on February 24 plus extended bidding, lot 80006.
The T206 Wagner is the most famous card, but this T206 #TyCobb with the “Ty Cobb King of the Smoking Tobacco World” back is far rarer. There are 50+ Wagners but only 20 of these Cobbs. This PSA 3.5 example, with only one superior, should hit $500k tonighthttps://t.co/FKK6oNWgnd pic.twitter.com/Lu2Jr91pI9— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) February 24, 2018
1910 Plank, Magee, and Others
2018 SOLD for $ 690K including premium
The advertising back identifies a brand of tobacco that can be Piedmont, Sweet Caporal or 14 other varieties. The views are not numbered but the cumulative number of the announced subjects allows to establish a chronology of the impressions : 150 subjects then 350 and 460, then 'Large Assortment' for the last runs. The Major League offers a very good coverage with 390 cards, the greatest champions like Ty Cobb having several varieties. 134 cards are displaying to players from minor leagues.
Collectors search for rarities in the best possible condition. The rarest figure is Wagner, Pittsburgh. The hierarchy of sports skills is respected in his case, because Honus Wagner was one of the best players of all time. His card was withdrawn as a result of a financial or ethical dispute between the player and the tobacco company.
On September 20 online from Dallas, Heritage is dedicating an entire auction to the dispersion of a highly remarkable collection of T206 in NM7 or better condition. The cards will be sold individually. Wagner is not there. The sale includes no less than 9 of the 13 cards graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA out of a total population of 225,000 T206 certified by this organization.
Lot 50391, estimated $ 400K, is a Plank, Phila. Amer. graded NM7 by PSA, with a back of the second issue at 350 subjects. Eddie Plank was a good Major League player, still recognized today as one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball history. His card is known to PSA in 72 copies, including 1 NM-MT8 and 3 NM7. The reason for this rarity is not known, perhaps the breakage of its printing plate.
Lot 50292, estimated $ 200K, is a Magie, Phila. Nat'l, with a back of the first issue at 150 subjects. It is the best card of this variant, graded NM-MT8 by PSA and the only one in this rank. Its rarity is due to a spelling mistake in the name of Sherry Magee, corrected for subsequent impressions. This Major League player owes his posthumous fame to a typographical error.
RESULTS including premium :
Plank : $ 690K
Magie : $ 660K
Gettysburg Eddie's T206 card shares with the fabled Honus Wagner both a maddening elusiveness and an apocryphal tale accounting for his rarity. This spectacular representation is one of just three reaching PSA NM 7, a rating exceeded just a single timehttps://t.co/zjImIIQKWQ pic.twitter.com/ZixUcR5Dx8— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) September 19, 2018
It's the most celebrated "error card" in the hobby, a handful were printed with the surname "Magie" instead of "Magee" elevating a solid player from obscurity to T206 immortality with Wagner & Plank. This NM-MT 8 is the finest known example of this rarityhttps://t.co/8TkzwPI8hM pic.twitter.com/JhKS1uRjmM— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) August 27, 2018
1910 A Dirty Box in the Attic
2012 SOLD 287 K$ including premium
In the attic of a house in Ohio, a family has just opened an old box that had belonged to the grandfather. No one had an interest to it for a hundred years. They found 700 baseball cards collected in 1910. Having never been manipulated, they are in the same condition as on the day of their purchase.
The series cataloged under reference E98 is nicely represented in this treasure. Although the brand is not identified, it is classified with the promotional cards for caramels and candies.
The full E98 list includes thirty cards with the lithographed photo of a player in front side, and on the back the names of those 30 athletes selected by the anonymous editor as the best baseball players of the time, including Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Christy Mathewson. Players are often shown in the heat of the moment.
The Ohio treasure includes 28 different players in the series E98, with a few additional copies lithographed with color variants.
Heritage has prepared two top lots for the sale of August 2 in Baltimore.
27 players are grouped in a lot estimated $ 400 K : almost all on red background, excepted Hans Wagner on green.The other lot, estimated $ 200K, is devoted to a single card, the red Wagner, in an extraordinary condition : gradedPSA Gem MT10.
Hans was then a nickname as usual as Honus for Wagner, also a great player, ranked second tying with Ruth in the first election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. He is also famous among collectors for his T206 card, an image which is very rare due to his disagreement for the use of his portrait in this series.
POST SALE COMMENT
These first two lots from the treasure had good results, especially when considering that this series is not one of the most prestigious.
The lot of 27 cards was sold $ 287K including premium, which makes a nice average of $ 10K per unit, and the perfect red Wagner was sold $ 240K including premium.
1914 Ruth the Pitcher
2013 SOLD 450 K$ including premium
On July 11, 1914, Babe Ruth played his first Major League game. Goldin Auctions marks the centennial of this event through an auction dedicated primarily to the champion, on July 12 in Baltimore.
A baseball card listed in this sale is exactly one hundred years old. It was made in Baltimore in 1914 before July 11. This copy graded PSA1 recognizable by its wear defects has already been discussed in this column in 2013. It was sold for $ 450K including premium by Robert Edward on May 18, 2013.
Here is my article from last year including its link to the announcement made at that time by AuctionPublicity :
Today, would there be any chance for a rookie in a minor baseball league to have his picture published? Possibly no. In 1914, the bulimia for images was so high that an image from the early days of Babe Ruth in baseball has been published.
George Ruth is 19 years old. He has not even reached his majority when the manager of the Baltimore Orioles appreciates his skills and offers him a first contract. His amused fellows nicknamed him Jack Dunn's Baby. From then and forever he will be the Babe.
Dunn was certainly a good businessman, because less than five months later he transferred George to a major club. During this very short period, the local publisher Baltimore News had time to publish a baseball card of "Ruth, pitcher". This is a rudimentary monochrome print available in two variants, red or blue.
A copy of the red version, in poor condition, the lowest in the PSA grading scale, was sold for $ 152K at auction in 2009. This specimen is illustrated in the release shared by AuctionPublicity.
Then everything will go very fast in the career of Babe Ruth and his iconography quickly becomes more common. For example, a baseball card from 1916, when Babe Ruth played for Boston, graded PSA 5, was sold for $ 90K including premium by Memory Lane in December 2012.
1915 The Ball Players
2019 SOLD for $ 500K including premium
Each subject is either a Ball Player or a Manager. The front side indicates the name of the player often without his first name, along with the city of his club and its league, American, National or Federal. The back includes a very short biography and tells how these cards are distributed.
In that first year the cards are inserted free of charge into the brand's popcorn boxes, one per package. They are very rare in excellent condition : many of them have been soiled either by a packaging without care or by contact with the candy.
The Cracker Jack series of 1915 brings several improvements including a greater thickness. The number of subjects is increased to 176, with very few changes in the original 144 numbers. A notable exception is number 88 for which a commonplace image of pitcher Christy Mathewson is replaced by his nice portrait.
The free availability in popcorn boxes is unchanged, but collectors can now acquire the entire series or an album by sending coupons. The new head to tail position of front and back makes it very easy to identify the 1915 cards.
The top champions are Joe Jackson and (Ty) Cobb, each one brandishing his bat. Cobb's severe gaze remarkably reflects his reputation as an unfriendly and even brawling character.
PSA has certified Mint 9 two 1915 Jackson cards and three 1915 Cobb cards, with no auction history for these Jackson. A Cobb was sold for $ 430K including premium by Heritage on June 29, 2017. Another Cobb also rated Mint 9 by PSA is estimated $ 400K for sale by Heritage online from Dallas on April 18, lot 51270. No Cobb or Jackson from the previous year is graded Mint.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1915, 1920 and 1934 game used bats of babe ruth
2017 all unsold
Ruth made his Major League debut in July 1914. The bat with a Spalding logo coming as lot 80001 is from his rookie period. With 37.5 oz only, this lightweight bat precedes the bespoke equipment made for Ruth by Hillerich and Bradsby throughout his later career. It is graded PSA/DNA GU9 with a heavy game use that may match Ruth's 1915 season with the Boston Red Sox.
The 40.2 oz bat at lot 80002 is from a model produced by Hillerich and Bradsby from 1918 to 1920 which is Ruth's transition period from the Sox to the Yankees. It is autographed by Ruth to a collector on the barrel and inscribed 1920 by him. This perfect Game Used bat graded PSA/DNA GU 10 and MEARS A10 displays many hits of balls grouped on a very small surface demonstrating the highly skilled gesture of Babe Ruth.
The Hillerich and Bradsby bat at lot 80021 matches with one of the very last home runs recorded by the champion with the Yankees, in 1934. It is signed by Ruth, Gehrig and most of the team. It also has a perfect grade but only with a light to moderate use.
In a hobby that values achievement most, and rookie vintage next, this 1915 #BabeRuth game used rookie bat is in a class of its own. Attributed to the first 50 games of the Bambino’s career it’s likely his first HRs came off its battle scarred barrelhttps://t.co/EHRYQCLaZY pic.twitter.com/gAiDkAc8W6— Heritage Sports (@Heritage_Sport) December 5, 2017
1923 SNOW ON THE BALL YARD
In 1923, the biggest event in the history of baseball is being prepared : the construction of a new stadium for the Yankees. On February 14, despite 10 cm of snow on the ground, Hunt and Ruth are testing the new field that the Babe kindly called the Ball Yard.
Of course, Babe Ruth took a bat. With no other public than the journalists, he made his first home run hit for that new place. In this Valentine's Day, the first visit of the champion to the field of his future exploits was perfectly successful.
A construction worker picked up the ball that Babe Ruth signed and dated. 'Ball Yard' being meaningless, he located it more appropriately as the New Yankee Field. From its grand opening on April 18, 1923 the prestigious yard became the Yankee Stadium.
This ball bearing the mark of the powerful bat blow was acquired directly from the worker more than forty years ago by Joel Platt, a prominent collector of sports memorabilia who is the founder and chairman of the Sports Immortals Museum in Boca Raton.
It is consigned by Platt in the sale organized by Goldin Auctions in Baltimore on July 12 to celebrate the centennial of Babe Ruth's professional debut. It is illustrated on the article shared by Auction Report.
1924 Trophies for Young Batters
In the same year Christy Walsh invents two lucrative jobs. He manages a syndicate of ghost writers who prepare texts to be endorsed by baseball personalities and approach the top players including Babe Ruth for becoming their business agent.
We must encourage young people to be reconciled with baseball. Following an initiative of the Los Angeles Evening Herald, Walsh and Ruth decide in 1923 that for three consecutive seasons the bat of the first home run of the champion will be inscribed and signed by him and given to the winner of a baseball contest organized for Californian students.
In 1923 Ruth scores his first homer on April 18 during the inauguration of the Yankee Stadium. It was impossible to imagine a more prestigious event. The bat used for this feat is awarded on June 7 by the newspaper to a young player named Victor Orsatti. It was sold on December 13, 2004 by Sotheby's for $ 1.26M including premium, a huge price for a sports memorabilia at that time.
In 1924 Ruth records his first homer on April 20 in Washington DC. This spectacular feat was performed on a fastball thrown by the best pitcher of all time, Walter Johnson nicknamed The Big Train, who was twelve years later one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The bat is awarded as promised to the winner of the Californian contest, Phil Grossman. Stolen in 1989 from his nephew by a fake expert, it resurfaced in 2017. This bat graded GU10 by PSA/DNA is estimated $ 2M for sale by Heritage in Dallas on February 23, lot 80058. It previously passed with a much higher opening bid at MEARS Auctions on December 1, 2018.
1925 THE LAKE OSCAWANA BASEBALL BAT
2011 SOLD 114 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
On 30 December 2010 MEARS sold at $ 113K including premium a baseball bat used by Ty Cobb in 1925, identifiedby the name of Lake Oscawana Cobb Bat. This prestigious game bat is now available again from SCP Auctions, an auction house based in California which, like MEARS, operates on the web. The auction ends on April 30.
As in December, the news was communicated on Twitter by the excellent specialized website Auction Report.
The December sale had given me the opportunity to remind some important results concerning baseball bats. I republish this article as a whole here below:
If you wish to designate the best baseball player of all time, your choice today would certainly be Babe Ruth. The batwith which he played on the opening day of the Yankee Stadium in New York (April 18, 1923) was sold for $ 1.26 million including premium by Sotheby's in December 2004.
Bats of the greatest players are specially designed to suit their style of play. It was the case of another bat of BabeRuth, used in 1918, which I had discussed here when it was sold by Heritage on October 2, 2009, $ 537K includingpremium.
In 1936, during the inaugural meeting of the future Baseball Hall of Fame, this group of specialists selected the top five players. Ruth was among the winners, of course, but the first place was awarded to Ty Cobb, who was retired since 1928.
On December 30 (2010), MEARS Auctions, which operates online from Milwaukee, sells a bat that was used by Ty Cobbin 1925. The evidence of this provenance is much detailed in the catalog, first by stating that the bat has the exact dimensions of those used by the champion, and secondly that Cobb signed it and gave it to the grandfather of the current owner on the occasion of an especially enjoyable touristic trip.
As discussed above, these sport instruments can achieve high prices. Cap Anson was a champion of the late nineteenth century. His name no longer has the same response as those of major players from the next century, yet one of his bats was sold for $ 287K including premium by Heritage on August 5, 2010.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, $ 114K including premium, is consistent with the price recorded four months earlier.
1927 The Sultan and his Challenger
2021 SOLD for $ 390K including premium
Babe Ruth is the Sultan of Swat, meaning that his hittings are worthy of a monarch. Yet he finds in his own team a young challenger as talented as him : Lou Gehrig. The Yankees are invincible, but this friendly internal rivalry makes the 1927 season arguably the most exciting in baseball history.
Fans manage to count the home runs. At the end of August, Gehrig leads with 45 homers. In September, Ruth is unleashed. In the middle of the month, it becomes clear that his performance will be unbeatable. He makes on September 30 his 60th homer of the season, a remarkable record which will last until 1961, thirteen years after his death.
The journalists are there. On September 15, the Wide World Photos, photo news service of the New York Times at that time, takes a picture of Gehrig congratulating Ruth. Both players are in baseball uniforms. Ruth is holding a bat.
On February 27 online from Dallas, Heritage sells as lot 80079 a signed 20 x 25 cm print of this photo, estimated $ 400K. The two signatures, inscribed by the players without superfluous comment on the image of their pants, are graded Auto 9 by PSA/DNA.
A typed paper was pasted on the back to provide the information necessary for publication. It explains why this moment is historic : "The King Still Reigns. New York : Lou 'Buster' Gehrig, pretender to the home-run crown, congratulates 'Babe' Ruth, who retained his title of 'Sultan of Swat' by outdistancing his younger rival in making round-trip hits ".
Buster was then a nickname attributed to Gehrig, after the error of a hard of hearing columnist who had believed that Ruth was so calling his young teammate. Ruth liked to use that name again to make fun of the incompetence of the journalists.
There's always a chance for controversy when declaring anything the "finest known" but we'll go out on that limb with this #BabeRuth & #LouGehrig signed photo. The photo is from the glorious 1927 season and both inscription-free autographs are PSA Mint 9s!https://t.co/N03mgKKjmt pic.twitter.com/2sYR7ZE1FS— Heritage Auctions Sports (@Heritage_Sport) January 23, 2021
1927 Relics from Babe Ruth
2012 SOLD 390 K$ including premium
From the perspective of auction results, Babe Ruth dominates the sports world at such a level that he becomes a specific theme of collection.
In December 2004, Sotheby's sold the bat used by the champion on the opening day of the Yankee Stadium in 1923. The result, $ 1.26 million including premium, seemed extraordinary at the time.
Interest in the memories of Babe Ruth has always remained strong. For example, on October 2, 2009, Heritage sold $537K including premium a bat used in 1918.
The climax was reached on May 19, 2012, when SCP Auctions sold at auction to a competitor for $ 4.4 million including premium a jersey worn by Babe Ruth in 1920, shortly after his transfer to the Yankees team.
The sale of Heritage in Baltimore on August 2 will improve the Babe Ruth reliquary.
The bat was used by him in 1927, the year when, thanks to the Babe, the Yankees firmly established their dominance in American baseball. Its estimate, $ 200K, is already exceeded. Here is the link to the catalog.
Signed balls are also sought. Considered like multiples, they are graded according to their condition. Graded PSA / DNA Mint +9.5, an undated ball is considered the finest example signed by Babe Ruth only, and the autograph is perfect. It is estimated $ 300K. Here is the link to the catalog.
And do not forget the cap from 1932, estimated $ 300K. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST 2012 SALE COMMENT
Good results for the ball and for the bat: $ 390K each, including premium.
The cap was far too expensive. Unsold.
The cap is now recorded on Heritage website as having been sold for $ 200K including premium.
It was sold by Goldin Auctions for $ 261K including premium on August 8, 2015, lot 32.
1931 Autograph Hunt in Chicago
2013 SOLD 62 K$ including premium
By necessity, this column discusses a suite of austere and serious lots. I am pleased today to introduce a funny piece: a baseball signed by two highly distinguished Americans, Babe Ruth and Al Capone.
1931 is the key final year of Scarface's career. Threatened by the tax authorities, he would try to protect himself by exhibiting the power of his social position. He devotes to social events, and even opens soup kitchens in this period of intense economic crisis.
Al Capone is an avid baseball fan. He cannot miss the visit to Chicago of the fabulous New York Yankees.
He is also an amateur of autographs. A photo published by Life Magazine is starring him in the stadium, having a ball signed by a prominent baseball player apparently delighted with this meeting.
The ball with the dual autograph is an initiative of a Yankees player. He first got the mark from the gangster, and submits it afterwards to the champion who complacently adds his famous signature, strong, simple and easy to read, which might seem to a graphologist as more authoritarian than the signature of the most powerful man in Chicago.
Logically, this piece managed by an intermediary does not imply that Ruth and Capone did actually meet, although such an event is far from being improbable.
$ 200K are expected from this ball, to be sold online on January 31 by Mile High Card Company, an auction house that operates from Colorado. Here is the link to the article shared by Auction Report.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate was ambitious for a ball that was more the memory of a historical atmosphere than of a sporting feat. The result, $ 62K including premium, is certainly the fair price for this cool lot.
1932 The Kings of Caramel
2019 SOLD for $ 430K including premium
This series announces 32 pictures which are for 27 baseball players, 3 boxers and 2 golfers. It has been distributed locally and is rare. The last of the series, Babe Ruth, is the most common, probably because the fame of the super-champion encouraged the young candy eaters to keep his image.
The back of the cards has an offer to send a ball or a glove to any fan who will send back to the office one or three complete sets, which will be returned with the gift.
We may question how the US Caramel was doing to prevent a set to be sent again to them. It is very simple and absolutely dishonest : the number 16 recorded by PSA as an elusive Charles Lindstrom is doubtful and has certainly never been available in a box of caramel.
In the following year Goudey will do the same with his chewing gum by secretly omitting the number 106. The discovery of the trickery will lead Goudey to fill this gap by the late edition of their Nap Lajoie card.
In an online sale from Dallas that ends on April 18, Heritage is separating a complete set of the 31 real US Caramel cards. 27 of them have the highest grade recorded by PSA for their card number. Here is the filtered link to this group.
The Babe Ruth card listed as lot 51351 is graded Mint 9 by PSA with only one other copy at this level and none above. Estimated $ 200K, it already exceeded this value 14 days before closing.
This craze for 1930s cards is new to the hobby. On January 24, 2019 Heritage's special sale of the top PSA-graded set of the 1933 Goudey baseball cards fetched $ 3.65M for 240 cards, led by $ 580K including premium for Gehrig and $ 530K including premium for Ruth, both in Mint 9 condition.
RESULTS of top lots including premium:
Babe Ruth card SOLD for $ 430K
Bobby Jones card SOLD for $ 78K
Ty Cobb card SOLD for $ 72K
1933 Ruth by Goudey
2018 SOLD for $ 320K including premium
Goudey Gum Company is a leader in the chewing gum market. The founder of the company retires in 1932. In 1933 the new management includes silkscreen printed cards in the gum packs. The drawing executed from a photograph is simple and the colors are bright. The back includes in full format a short descriptive text beside the identification of the publisher, which was much more attractive at that place than on a postcard.
The most important series is devoted entirely to baseball players under the title of Big League Chewing Gum. Its 240 images are published by Goudey in Boston. 94 of them are renumbered and published in Montreal by World Wide Gum Company which was the Goudey branch in Canada.
The editions released in the same year include a multi-sport series of 48 cards for the Sport Kings chewing gum, 216 Indian views for the Indian chewing gum and two other series of 48 cards : Boy Scouts and Sea Raiders.
Babe Ruth, the top star in baseball, is represented by no less than 4 numbers in the Big League series. Number 181 is a close-up portrait on which the leaning champion carefully observes an action out of the field of view. This picture is not included in the other series.
In their ongoing auction, Goldin sell as lot 21 a copy of the Goudey 1933-181 graded Mint 9 by PSA, very rare in this condition with perfect centering, very fresh colors, very clean edges and the four corners intact. The online sale managed from New Jersey will be closed in a live session on August 2.
In order for young collectors to continue buying the gum, the number 106 of the 1933 series was originally not used. The deception has been discovered. In the following year Goudey created a 1933-106 to provide it to angry fans. This card with the effigy of retired champion Napoleon Lajoie is the rarest in the series and no copy was stained by gum. A 1933-106 graded Mint 9 by PSA was sold for $ 230K including premium by Goldin on October 1, 2016.
1936 THE TRIBUTE OF CAL RIPKEN JR TO LOU GEHRIG
When Babe Ruth retired in 1935, Lou Gehrig, his long time teammate in the New York Yankees, was already exceeding his performance.
Nicknamed the Iron Horse for his regularity, Gehrig recorded the amazing figure of 2,130 consecutive games, only stopped when he was suffering from the sclerosis now described as "Lou Gehrig's disease".
For Lou, 1936 is a year of glory. I introduce today two different bats (one of them already sold) from a series of seven made for him from 1936 to 1938 by Hillerich and Bradsby in Louisville KY.
On August 2, 2013, Legendary Auctions sold for $ 292K including premium a bat graded 8.5 by PSA / DNA that has the rare feature of an autograph inscription and signature by Gehrig.
The other bat is listed by Goldin Auctions in an online sale that will close on November 2. It is graded GU9 (game used) by PSA / DNA .
This bat is in ash, the highly dense wood that was the specialty of Hillerich and Bradsby. The champion who handles it in the video below is not anyone : Cal Ripken Jr. was the first player to break the record of endurance of Lou Gehrig.
I invite you to play this video shared by Goldin Auctions on YouTube.
1936 the perfect swing of sam snead
As skilled in short and long games, Sam had especially managed the perfect swing gesture combining strength, flexibility and accuracy. Along with Jesse Owens, Babe Ruth, Bob Beamon or Cassius Clay, he could have been one of those legendary champions who have forever changed the technique of their sport, but unfortunately he never won the US Open.
Heritage is dispersing the memories of Sam Snead. At the first sale on August 1, 2013, the 1946 British Open trophy was sold for $ 263K including premium.
The club used by Sam Snead from 1936 to 1953 is for sale onSeptember 25 in Dallas, lot 80001. Throughout this long period when he won over one hundred tournaments, Sam Snead had systematically used this piece of equipment.
I invite you to play the video shared by Heritage for introducing the first sale, where you can admire the beauty and especially the repetition of the perfect swing by this great champion.
1937 Football in Colleges
2018 SOLD for $ 310K including premium
The main difference is that College Football players do not have the right to receive financial rewards. They demonstrate their skills for strategy and leadership, set an example through their hard work and integrity, and many of them stop sport once they graduate.
Non-financial awards highlight these future elites of sport and of the nation. The most prestigious is the annual Heisman Memorial Trophy, awarded for the first time in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy and which changed its name in the following year in tribute to a recently deceased coach. Voters are mostly chosen among sports journalists.
The third Heisman Memorial trophy was awarded in 1937 to a Yale University player named Clint Frank. Very effective on offense as on safety despite a severe myopia, he was not disturbed by frequent injuries. He was in the same year the very first winner of a similar prize, the Maxwell award. Graduate in economics, he did not manage to make a career in sport.
The Heisman trophy is a 34 cm high bronze weighing 11.3 Kg showing a football player in action. The 1936 statuette awarded to Larry Kelley, another Yale player, was sold for $ 330K by Leland's in December 1999. Clint Frank's Heisman trophy is estimated $ 400K for sale by Heritage on October 18 online from Dallas, lot 50773.
1937 BOBBY JONES WAS GREEN
2011 SOLD 310 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Bobby Jones is one of those exceptional sportsmen who have both dominated their sport and conclusivelydemonstrated an outstanding fair play.
The golf champion stopped competing in 1930. An engineer by training, he then devoted to the establishment of the best golf course in the world, in Augusta GA. It is in this venue that the prestigious Masters Tournament is played annually since 1934.
Taking up an idea already used by an English club, the Augusta National Golf Club founded by Jones and Roberts decided in 1937 that the tournament officials will be recognized in a brightly colored blazer.
Thus was created the Green Jacket, the garment that became over the years a golf legend by itself. It is now awarded to the winner of the Masters, with a strict usage protocol which prohibits the proud owner to wear it outside the club facilities.
The prototype of the Green Jacket was awarded to Jones, and bears his civil initials (TRJ). This monument in the history of golf is estimated $ 100K, to sell on August 4 in Rosemont IL by Heritage Auctions. As usual, the catalog page is shared on the web by the auction house.
POST SALE COMMENT
Golf is not the most popular sport at auction, and the estimate was conservative. It has been widely exceeded: $ 260K before fees, 310K including premium.
1949 The Commitment of Jackie Robinson
2017 SOLD for $ 276K by Robert Edward
2018 SOLD for $ 192K including premium
Engaged in the US army during the war, Jackie Robinson meets Joe Louis. He forces his admission into a school for White officers. In 1944, following the path opened by boxing champions Joe Louis and Ray Sugar Robinson, he refuses the segregation in a military bus.
Once released from the army Jackie Robinson chooses baseball. He stirs the attention of club managers : the Major League is banned for the Blacks but this young guy is too skilled to play in the minor leagues. It was to a White, Branch Rickey, to force the fate.
Rickey is manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in Major League and of the Montreal Royals in a minor league. He summons Robinson and explains to him that he will be the object of the vociferous hatred of the Whites. Robinson remembers the deserved glory of his friend Joe Louis. He accepts.
Their plan is applied in two phases. Robinson's signing with the Royals on October 23, 1945 goes unnoticed. His signature with the Dodgers on April 11, 1947 is like a bomb. The copies given to Jackie of these two signed documents will be sold as a single lot sale by Goldin in New York on February 27. 10% of the sale price will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Seth Kaller, expert in historical documents, defined for this set the price that was retained by the insurance companies : 36 million dollars.
Please watch the video shared on May 1, 2017 by Darren Rovell on ESPN, including interesting interviews with owner and experts.
Only one other contract signed by Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers is available to collectors. Established in 1949, it was sold for $ 276K by Robert Edward on April 24, 2017. It is estimated $ 200K for sale by Heritage in Dallas on February 24, lot 80070.
In 1955 Rosa Parks entered the legend of race relations when she refused to give way to a white man in an Alabama bus.
Goldin (1945-1947) : UNSOLD
Heritage (1949) : SOLD for $ 192K including premium
1950 Photo Matching for Di Maggio
2019 SOLD for $ 230K including premium
When matching refers to a significant event in the career of one of the greatest champions, the prices of jerseys are very high : $ 4.4M by SCP for Babe Ruth on May 19, 2012, $ 2.05M by Heritage for Jackie Robinson on November 19, 2017, $ 1.32M by Heritage for Mickey Mantle on August 18, 2018. These results include the premium.
In June 2018 SCP sold in a private sale a recently surfaced jersey worn by Lou Gehrig in 1937. It was matched with two games including a homer game. The price was announced as very high but not revealed.
Joe DiMaggio was a champion of the same highest caliber. He made his whole career with the New York Yankees, after Ruth and Gehrig and before Mantle. In 1949 he was the first baseball player to win $ 100,000 in a single season. Bored of baseball after several injuries, he retired after the 1951 season. He was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe in 1954.
On October 18, 2018 a jersey worn by DiMaggio passed at Heritage. Photo matched only once in 1947, it does not appear in the following games. It had been estimated $ 400K.
In an online auction ending on February 1, Lelands sells as lot 304 a uniform worn by DiMaggio, graded A8 by MEARS. The jersey is photo matched with no less than six games between April 1950 and March 1951 including two homer games, and the pants are matched with the last of those six games.
1952 The Mantle Boom
2016 SOLD for $ 500K including premium
The 1952 Topps is the first modern series of baseball cards, with a striking iconography on front side and relevant information on the back of the card. The end of this series, from the number 311 showing Mantle, is rare due to its late printing date that did dot match the sporting season. The total population validated by PSA was 1225 units in December 2015.
Born in the same year as James Dean, Mickey Mantle joined the team of the New York Yankees in the previous year and appeared as the successor to Joe DiMaggio who had just retired. His career will meet such promises.
Collectors are struggling to find the best possible card. In a previous post, I had retrieved that three Topps 1952-311 had been graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. To my knowledge, the last offering of one of them at auction happened in June 2001. The result recorded by Superior Sports Auction, $ 275K, was astonishing in its time.
Interest is growing and prices are soaring, particularly for cards graded Near Mint - Mint 8 by PSA. I had discussed two of them in July 2015, sold for $ 380K including premium by Heritage and $ 400K including premium by Goldin. Such a rating is already outdated. Another 1952-311 NM-MT 8 was sold for $ 486K by PWCC Auctions on eBay in November 2015, soon exceeded by another unit that sold for $ 525K including premium at Heritage on December 10.
The grading by PSA is not sufficient to compare these examples in terms of visual effect and centering. Heritage announced that the 1952-311 NM-MT 8 for sale by them in New York on February 20 is the best that they ever encountered in its grade. It is estimated $ 400K, lot 80015.
1952 Baseball Cards with the Bubble Gum
2017 SOLD for $ 410K including premium
Before that auction feat other examples had been discussed in this column. One of them graded NM-MT 8 by PSA and also described as perfectly centered was sold for $ 400K including premium by Goldin on July 31, 2015, lot 52.
This card is now offered as lot 80676 with a guide value of $ 500K by Heritage in Dallas in an online auction whose extended bidding phase starts on November 16.
Its 2015 sale had been an opportunity to narrate the 1952 Topps Mantle cards as follows :
The bubble gum brands recuperated the traditional business of tobacco manufacturers to edit sports cards. After war Gum Inc. from then known as Bowman is the leader in this market. His rival Topps will however win the game from its first year of card production in 1952.
The Topps cards are innovative by their enlarged size 7 x 9.5 cm, the detailed information on the back about the player's records, the careful or smiling but always powerful attitude of the champion, and beautiful colors.
Mickey Mantle played his first Major League game with the New York Yankees in April 1951. He will make his entire career in this prestigious team. Aged 20, he has promising qualities that will make him one of the best post war baseball players. His ambidextrous hits are remarkable : he holds the bat in the right hand against left-handed pitchers and switches to left hand against right-handers.
The first baseball card of Mickey Mantle is the number 253 of the 1951 Bowman series, but it is the number 311 of the 1952 Topps set which will become the most prestigious in the hobby of post war baseball cards.
311 is the lowest number in the second part of this Topps edition but it has no reason to be rarer than the higher numbers. PSA has graded more than 1000 copies. The picture is especially appealing with the dynamic behavior of the player and the sunlight on the face protected by the cap. Copies in excellent condition have brilliant colors that make it one of the masterpieces of the genre.
1952 The Drowning of the Topps Cards
2015 SOLD for $ 380K including premium
2018 SOLD for $ 360K including premium
In mid-Summer 2015 two 1952-311 Topps baseball cards starring Mickey Mantle fetched simultaneously in the region of $ 400K. Both are graded NM-MT 8 by PSA. These results smashed the previous records that had never reached $ 300K even in higher grades.
One of them has been sold by Goldin for $ 400K including premium on July 31, 2015 and by Heritage for $ 410K including premium on November 16, 2017. The other copy was sold for $ 380K including premium by Heritage on July 30, 2015, lot 80016. It is now estimated $ 400K by the same auction house in their online sale closing on February 24 plus extended bidding, lot 80027.
After July 2015 the auction records for this specific card number continued to rise including $ 660K including premium for the same grade at Heritage on February 26, 2017 and $ 1.13M including premium for an NM-MT+ 8.5 on November 17, 2016, also by Heritage.
Just before that boom I discussed the unusual fate of the high numbers of the 1952 Topps baseball edition when I introduced the copy that is now listed again in the next sale :
The bubble gum has somehow succeeded to tobacco : Topps Chewing Gum becomes a leader in its market by using the previous distribution networks of a tobacco company. After a limited 1951 test series, Topps launches in 1952 its first modern full range edition.
The project is ambitious and innovative. The image of the player printed in beautiful colors is accompanied by a fac simile of his autograph signature. The back side lists the statistics and feats of the player as well as his personal attributes and some laudatory comments.
No fewer than 407 players are selected and the production is executed in two runs. The second part starts at the number 311 showing Mickey Mantle. It was the rookie year for this champion in the very prestigious New York Yankees team, offering two additional reasons to be appealed by that card.
The fact that it is the first number in the second part is probably linked to his rapidly growing fame in 1952. His Topps card introduces him as the successor to Joe DiMaggio.
The second part of the 1952 Topps series is released too late, when the season is already over, and its sales are catastrophic. Due to the highly detailed sports record information, the cards were obsolete from one season to another. Topps were nevertheless happy with their development of baseball cards in a suitable format and started preparing the edition of the next year.
The unsold stock was of no further use to them and they drowned in 1960 in the Atlantic Ocean a barge loaded with the huge remains of the second part of the 1952 edition.
1952 Say Hey Willie
2016 SOLD for $ 380K including premium
Willie's career in Major League Baseball begins in 1951 after four years in the Negro Leagues and extends up to 1973. He is at 20 in 1951 the Rookie of the Year in the National League. More passionate about the game than by his teammates and competitors, he pretended not reminding their names and hailed everybody by the formula 'Say Hey Man'. He got as early as 1951 the nickname Say Hey Kid that will never leave him.
1952 is the year of the great modernization of the Topps cards. Willie Mays is honored for his rookie year at number 261. Collectors now consider that cards in perfect condition are very rare throughout the series although only the highest numbers including Mickey Mantle's 311 have been the subject to a mass destruction due to an editing delay.
A 1952-261 card graded Mint 9 by PSA was sold for $ 480K including premium by Heritage in May 2016. Another one in same condition is offered by the same auction house on August 27 in Dallas, lot 80010. Its guide value at $ 400K is in line with the above result. Only one 1952-261 was graded higher.
Topps changes every year the player's picture on the front and updates the summary of his career on the back. Willie is not forgotten in 1953 while his professional career is interrupted by military service. The reverse of the card includes also a Quiz unrelated to Willie : "Which player was tagged with the nickname The Iron Horse ?". The answer which you certainly know is to read by turning the card upside down.
Only one copy of Willie's 1953-244 card has ever been graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. This perfect card of an outstanding young player is at lot 80012 in the same sale as above with a guide value of $ 800K.
1952 : SOLD for $ 380K including premium
1953 : unsold
1954 Henry of the Braves
2016 SOLD for $ 320K including premium
Despite the famous breakthrough of Jackie Robinson in Major League in 1947, the beginnings of this quiet athlete born in Alabama are marred by racism and segregation. Playing as outfielder, his results in Negro League in 1952 and 1953 with the Indianapolis Clowns are already exceptional.
Henry enters the Major League in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves. Topps publishes his rookie card under number 128, with a highly effective portrait. He is a good guy. The back of the card reinforces this feature by showing the player presenting to his friends his Minor League trophy watches. It may be noted from this example that Topps remains impartial with respect to racial issues.
1954-128 is not uncommon in mint condition and for this reason auction prices have not yet reached the culmination deserved from the subsequent glory of this rookie. PSA recorded 2 cards in Gem Mint 10 condition and no fewer than 22 cards in Mint 9 condition. Prices are however rising, following the trend of the rest of the market.
One of the two PSA 10 cards was sold for $ 360K by SCP Auctions in May 2012.
Two PSA 9 have already been sold in 2016 : $ 192K including premium by Mile High Card Company on January 22 and $ 360K including premium by Heritage on August 28. The card sold seven months ago remained well below the price guide currently suggested by PSA. It comes back unsurprisingly in the online sale by Goldin Auctions ending on October 1, lot 28.
1955 The Glove of Jackie Robinson
2013 SOLD 370 K$ including premium
The action of Jackie Robinson must be equally remembered in social history and in sport history.
Since 1887, no Black is allowed to participate in a game of the Major League Baseball, an untouchable and symbolic fortress of segregation. The racial barrier will be broken by the extreme audacity of the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey.
Rickey knows that the role of the manager is to recruit the best players. In 1945, he decides to take into account the skill rather than the color of the skin. He understands that his first Black player will have to stoically withstand abuse and aggression along many years.
Jackie Robinson is not a boxer, but he knows Joe Louis very well. The fact that a Black is a world champion is accepted in boxing. Jackie appreciates the incongruity of the situation in baseball and the extent of the challenge proposed by Rickey. He accepts. The success of Robinson is one of the events that led to the complete abolition of segregation in the United States.
Steiner sells the glove used by Robinson in 1955 and 1956 until his very last game. This glove of Rawlings brand, very worn, is an opportunity to honor the outstanding sportsmanship that made the popularity of Robinson in his difficult career.
The online sale will end on June 2. The reserve price has already been reached with a bid in excess of $ 300K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The outstanding equipment from the sporting career of Jackie Robinson are rare on the market. The glove was sold for $ 370K including premium.
1956 Number 8
2010 SOLD 565 K$ including premium
If he's right, comic books are not the only sector of the U.S. market that is likely to jump in a spiral of rising prices for exceptional lots. Exactly! Today news bring us the jerseys of baseball players.
On February 16, I discussed the forthcoming sale of a jersey from number 7 of the New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle, estimated $ 100K.
Five days later, a jersey number 8 was in turn announced in a press release by Grey Flannel, for auction sale on the web on April 14 with a starting price of $ 50K. As I had explained, the Yankees honored their great players by removing their number. The number 8 was therefore that of Yogi Berra.
The auction house considered being able to demonstrate, based on period photographs, that this garment was worn by Berra at the most memorable feat of his career (a "perfect" game) in 1956.
It is well appreciated that the main specialty of Grey Flannel is selling jerseys of baseball players. But will the market accept the demonstration?
The answer came today, shared by Auction Report: Two weeks before the closing of the sale, the bid is already at 240 K $. How far will it go up?
POST SALE COMMENT
All categories of the market can generate outstanding prices. The jersey number 8 was sold for 565 K $ including premium.
1956 The Year of the Triple Crown
2017 SOLD for $ 360K including premium
Aged 25, The Mick has progressed steadily since his debut in Major League five years earlier. His feats do not cease to feed the chronicle. Already in 1953 he had hit a ball so hard that it flew out of the stadium. He may become the best baseball player of all time.
His 1956 Topps card is highly popular with the young collectors. Prepared during the season, it does not yet refer to the awards of the year. The front side is the juxtaposition of two photos : a portrait with big smile of the outfielder of the Yankees and a gesture of victory in front of the tribune.
The verso is very interesting because it expresses the enthusiasm of the editor for the capacities of the player. Topps got emboldened. The backs of the 1952 cards listed facts and figures with austerity. Afterward they added quiz with their answers and tiny humorous drawings.
Three drawings cover the central part of the back of The Mick's 1956 Topps. On the left, a spectator uses a telescope to follow the ball. On the right, the player runs so fast that his shadow fails to follow him. In the center a mob hurries.
The card was edited on two types of cardboard, gray back and white back. White is more rare. Five copies were graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA including only one white. None of them had recently been offered at auction according to PSA data.
A Mickey Mantle 1956 gray back Topps Gem Mint 10 will be sold by Heritage in Dallas on May 11 with extended bidding, lot 80520 announced with a $ 350K guide value. By comparison, the highest price recorded on the same item in lower grades is $ 48K including premium on two different copies in November 2016 and February 2017, both by Heritage.
1958 Brown of the Browns
2017 SOLD for $ 336K including premium
His rookie card was published by Topps in 1958. Jim Brown is in full run, demonstrating his exceptional power. His jersey bears the number 32 which was withdrawn by his club when he retired.
Curiously, despite a remarkable feat of 237 yards run in one game in 1957, the text on the back of the card appears a posteriori too soft for this young player who will be one of the best of all time. Topps, perhaps not well informed, attributes to him the first name Jimmy, a diminutive whose use is not confirmed by his page in Wikipedia.
Five copies of his 1958 Topps are ranked Mint 9 by PSA with none higher. One of them was sold for $ 360K including premium by Heritage in November 2016. Another one comes for sale by Heritage in Dallas with a guide value at $ 300K, lot 80100. The sale takes place on February 25 with a close out in the following day after an extended bidding phase.
Last year's Heritage catalog referred to Jimmy Brown's 1958 Topps as the most significant post-war rookie football card. PSA gives no example at auction of the Topps 1965 rookie card Mint 9 of Joe Namath whose population is four with none higher.
1960 Gold on Ice
2016 SOLD for $ 50K including premium
In both cases, the Americans appeared as outsiders against the Soviets and also against the Canadians. In 1960 in Squaw Valley, they were also handicapped by quarrels between players. The brothers Bill and Roger Christian were able to give a consistency to this team which won all of its seven matches of that competition.
In 1980 in Lake Placid, the Americans are young and inexperienced but extremely combative. Their last but one match of the competition, won against the Soviets, will be highlighted in sports history as the Miracle on Ice. Two days later, their victory against Finland brings the gold medal to the USA.
Bill's son, Dave Christian, is one of the winners of 1980 and the author of a decisive action at the end of the first period of the Miracle on Ice.
Father and son are selling their gold medals at the auction organized by Heritage in New York on 20 February.
The remarkable feat of Squaw Valley, ironically nicknamed the Forgotten Miracle, does not have the prestige of the Miracle on Ice achieved in a time of heavy political tension between USA and USSR. Dave's medal is announced with a guide value of $ 400K, lot 80074. Bill's medal is announced with a guide value of $ 50K, lot 80070.
1960 (Bill) : SOLD for $ 50K including premium
1980 (Dave) : unsold
1962 Give the Ball to Wilt Chamberlain
2019 SOLD for $ 215K including premium
On December 8 Wilt scored 78 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, breaking the record of points scored in a single NBA game set in the previous year by Elgin Baylor. Observers feel that Wilt "the Dipper" can do even better with his 2.16 m and his 25 years.
On March 2, 1962 in Hershey near Philadelphia, the Warriors receive the New York Knicks. The match promises to be banal. The arena is half empty and the press dit not condescend to attend. Wilt appears in top fitness. At halftime his teammate Guy Rodgers says : "Let's get the ball to Dip. Lets's see how many he can get". Excited by the speaker, the crowd chants "Give it to Wilt".
In this match without overtime, Wilt Chamberlain scores exactly 100 points, the last of them 46 seconds before the end on the pass from a teammate who had given up an easy point for that purpose. This is the greatest feat in the history of the NBA. Even today no one else has approached such a result in a single game. Kobe Bryant will score 81 points on January 22, 2006.
The Hershey match is won by the Warriors on the epic score of 169-147. Few memories survived but part of the game court was cut into small pieces offered to fans for the 50th year of the event in 2012.
On February 11, 2012, Grey Flannel sold for $ 108K including premium an official scorecard bearing the autograph signature of the champion.
In an online sale ending on April 27, SCP Auctions sells as lot 355 another scorecard, prepared by the "statistician" of the Warriors. This document clearly identifies the 100 points scored by the champion, whose recording largely encroaches over the line scheduled for Rodgers. This document also is signed by Wilt Chamberlain.
1965 and 1971 Muhammad Ali in Red and White
2019 both unsold
Lot 80110, estimated $ 150K, is the white robe worn by the champion in his match against Sonny Liston in Lewiston on May 25, 1965. For the first time Cassius Clay sports on a ring his new name Muhammad Ali, inscribed in red letters on the back of his garment.
In 1971 Ali prepares his grand come back for the heavyweight title of which he had been deposed in 1967 after his refusal to join the armed forces. He will fight the defending champion Joe Frazier on March 8 at Madison Square Garden.
Meanwhile the audio-visual has made its great revolution : the color television, still in infancy in 1965, is omnipresent in 1971. Ali wants to stay The Greatest. Four days before the event, he reveals to the New York Times that his robe will be red and white, like a king.
This telegenic robe is estimated $ 1M, lot 80111. Matching the shorts, it is made in red velvet enhanced with white satin for the trimmings and the inscription of his name. Inseparable from the images of this match which is aptly described as the Fight of the Century, it becomes a symbol of the first professional defeat of Muhammad Ali. The champion will never wear red again.
1968 The Mick with a Gentle Tiger
2017 SOLD for $ 490K including premium
The number of successful home runs (homers) in Major League baseball is the metrics that makes it possible to compare the best hitters of all time throughout their career. Babe Ruth was the first player to record his 500th homer in 1929, followed by Jimmie Foxx in 1940.
On September 19, 1968, the New York Yankees meet the Detroit Tigers. The absolute classification on that date is led by Ruth and Willie Mays with Foxx and Mickey Mantle sharing the third position with 534 homers each.
Since his rookie year in 1951, The Mick is a very popular player but at 37 years old in 1968 he has lost much of his effectiveness. During the game with Detroit, he holds the bat while the pitcher is one of his fervent admirers, Denny McLain, a strong personality who is not afraid of controversy. McLain launches an easy ball to Mantle and The Mick achieves his 535th homer with which he can finally overtake Foxx.
There was nothing illegal in this complacent pitch despite a wink by the Tiger when The Mick reached the third base. McLain will be reprimanded by the Major League Baseball Commissioner. Mantle will achieve before the end of that year his 536th and final homer.
These records have been exceeded many times : Mickey Mantle is currently in 13th position for the number of homers in Major League. His difficult end of life is forgotten and he has become again the symbol of the post-war American dream.
The road grey jersey worn by Mantle against the Tigers was autographed by him on the upper chest to a friend and signed "The Mick". This game worn uniform graded A10 by MEARS was sold by Heritage for $ 490K including premium on February 25, 2017, lot 80014. It is listed by the same auction house in an online sale closing on August 29, 2020, lot 80050.
1968 The 10 Second Mark
2017 SOLD for $ 33.4K
The two Olympic gold medals won by Jim Hines were listed by SCP Auctions in their online sale that closed on November 4, 2017. The 4 x 100 m medal was sold for $ 33.4K as lot 698. The 100 m medal passed as lot 699. It is listed again by the same auction house as lot 474 in the online sale that ends on March 24.
I narrated it as follows in 2017 :
The victory of Jim Hines in the 100 meter dash at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is a milestone in the history of athletics.
It occurred within a transition period between manual and electronic timing. The importance of measuring time with an accuracy lower than one tenth of a second no longer made it possible to rely on a manual process whatever the skill and the training of the referee. The measurement will become fully automatic in 1977.
On June 20, 1968 in Sacramento, the 100 meter of the US national championships is won by Hines. Manually timed in 9.9 seconds , he is then considered as the first athlete to break the 10 second mark but the electronic timing used in redundancy displays a higher value at 10.03 seconds.
In October at the Olympic Games, Hines brilliantly confirms that he is the best, with 9.95 seconds between the sound of the gun and the photo of his crossing of the finish line. His time under 10 seconds is now undeniable and moreover his competitors follow far behind, at 10.04 seconds for the silver medal and 10.07 seconds for the bronze medal. He won another gold medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay.
The altitude of Mexico City is conducive to record breaking. Bob Beamon's long jump at the same Games will remain legendary forever. Undoubtedly considering that he has reached a limit, Hines stops track and fields immediately after his return and begins a short lived professional career in American football.
His world record was overcome in 1983 by Calvin Smith.
100 m medal also UNSOLD in 2018
1969 Reminding Lew Alcindor
2016 SOLD for $ 500K including premium
From his college career, a team that employs Lew becomes a winner. He adds to his towering height, 2.18 m, an impeccable technique, extending an arm for the shot while outstretching the other arm to counter the defenders. He deserves a reputation of invincibility but suffered the hard game of his competitors jealous of his easiness and success.
Lew signs his first NBA contract in 1969 with the Milwaukee Bucks whose performance in the previous season had been particularly poor. Lew leads the Bucks to victory. He is elected Rookie of the Year in the NBA for the 1969-1970 season and Most Valuable Player for no less than six of the ten next seasons.
Topps publishes in 1969 the rookie card of Lew Alcindor including on the reverse a comment that is already extremely positive : "Lew came to the NBA with the most impressive set of credentials in history".
This 1969-25 card is a headache for collectors. The player is shown in an oval on a white background that is conducive to reveal stains and wear. Only one perfect copy is known, graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. This exceptional example is listed by Heritage in Dallas on August 27 with a guide value of $ 400K, lot 80077.
1969 The Rings of Abdul-Jabbar
2020 SOLD for $ 156K including premium
The career of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar extends over three college years with the NCAA, from 1967 to 1969, then for twenty years as a professional with the NBA, from 1969 to 1989. It is exemplary. He is a three-time NCAA Champion with his university's UCLA Bruins club. He is an NBA Champion in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks and in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
An African-American activist, Abdul-Jabbar is forever a role model for young people, a basketball player who overcame difficulties and succeeded in his career and post-career. He created the Skyhook Foundation to give new impetus to schoolboys in poverty by offering them a week-long stay in a camp in the midst of the forest.
Abdul-Jabbar knows that his achievement is part of the history of sports. He is a collector on a wide variety of topics. He decided to put all his basketball memories at the disposal of collectors. The auction includes 146 lots. It is organized by Goldin Auctions online, ending on October 27. Proceeds from the sale will go primarily to the Skyhook Foundation.
The catalog includes three prestigious championship rings.
Lot 53 is a non-nominating NCAA ring rewarding the Bruins for three consecutive victories in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Lot 63 is the 1971 NBA Ring awarded to L. Alcindor of the Milwaukee Bucks. Lew Alcindor was the birth name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used by him until he made public his conversion to Islam in 1971.
Lot 76 is the 1982 NBA Team Work Championship ring awarded to Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers.
2018 RESULTS :
1971 NBA ring SOLD for $ 153K including premium
Lots 53 and 76 unsold
The 1967-1969 NCAA ring was sold for $ 156K including premium by Heritage on August 29, 2020, lot 80100.
1969 The Last Jersey of Mickey Mantle
2011 SOLD 48 K$ including premium
On April 23, 2010, Heritage sold in Dallas a game worn jersey of Mickey Mantle. The estimate was announced at $100K, but the realized price, $ 48K including premium, did not respond to this expectation.
This lot will certainly score better at its next presentation in the same auction room during the sale of 10 and 11 November. Here is the link to the catalog page.
Last year, I announced this garment as follows:
The New York Yankees baseball team honors their greatest players by giving them a uniform number which is not returned to the circuit after their retirement. So Babe Ruth had the number 3.
In its sale in Dallas, Heritage Auction Galleries is selling the latest jersey number 7 of the Yankees. It was worn by Mickey Mantle, the star player of the 1960s. He used it for the last time in 1969 as an instructor for a youth training camp, and gave it to a young player who did not understand the importance of the gift and forgot.
This Spalding jersey is size 44 on a scale that usually goes up to 46. Indeed, the measurements of Mantle were not exceptional (85 Kg, 1.80 m). His speed and strength made him one of the most admired baseball players of all time.
POST SALE COMMENT
Among the baseball uniforms presented in the press release before sale, Ty Cobb's got the highest result, $ 360K including premium. It was the star lot of the sale.
I discussed Mickey Mantle jersey here above because I had already analyzed this lot in the past.Remarkably, it had exactly the same price as in April 2010: $ 48K including premium.
1971 The Come Back of the Greatest
2016 SOLD for $ 590K including premium
The auction story really starts with the deceased estate of Angelo Dundee who had been Ali's trainer and cornerman. SCP Auctions sold for $ 385K each in November 2012 a pair of Frager gloves used against Liston in 1964 and a pair of Everlast gloves used against Frazier in 1971.
Both pairs later came back at auction. The 1964 pair was sold for $ 840K by Heritage on February 22, 2014. The 1971 pair was sold for $ 390K on July 31, 2014, also by Heritage, lot 80075.
Both had been discussed in 2014 in this column. All figures above include the premium.
Another price recently reminded must not be considered in this story. A pair of gloves worn against Patterson in their 1965 title fight was part of a much wider private deal involving moguls of boxing management for an overall $ 1.1M in February 2012.
Time changes and The Greatest has now deceased. The 1971 bout had been the first loss in his exceptional career, against Frazier who also was a much deserving champion. I guess that the flat result of the July 2014 auction was because Ali had not won and that the most dramatic of Ali's feats must now generate the highest excitement at auction whatever the sporting result.
This pair of gloves is now estimated $ 1M for sale by Goldin on August 4 in Atlantic City, lot 41. Although they were only used in that full fifteen round bout they are both highly worn including stains from perspiration.
Here is how I discussed the 'Fight of the Century' for introducing this lot in 2014.
The heavyweight boxing world championship held on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden between Ali and Frazier opposed two champions undefeated in their professional career. Moreover both had won most of their fights by knockout.
The official return of Muhammad Ali, previously stripped of his title for political reasons, passionated his supporters and his opponents. He had proclaimed that he was the greatest, and it was true. In 1964, he had humbled Liston who did not represent his ideal of the black man. With Frazier, he managed a similar escalation of provocation.
Joe Frazier is also one of the top champions of all time. On 8 March 1971, his endurance through the fifteen rounds proved far superior to Ali's and his victory was unquestionable. The fight of the century was very hard. Ali's wound at the cheek was severe and Frazier was so exhausted that he had to be hospitalized.
The remake between both champions in Manila on October 1, 1975 will have the same dramatic intensity.
1971 THE TRUNKS OF GLORY
2011 SOLD 173 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
This was the fight of the century, between two boxers claiming the title of world heavyweight champion. Muhammad Ali had been stripped of his title in 1967 after taking a stand against the Vietnam War. Facing the superchampion, JoeFrazier was an outsider. Yet he was recognized by both official organizations, WBA and WBC.
On March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden, the match of the century is even more exciting than expected. Frazierdominated, and his victory at the end of the regular fifteen rounds is unquestionable. But it is a Pyrrhic victory. After the game, the confirmed champion, exhausted, is incoherent and has to be hospitalized. Ali is badly wounded in the cheek.
In October, on the web from California, SCP Auctions will sell the velvet trunks worn by Ali in that memorable event.This lot is shown in the email shared by the auction house.
The match of 1st October 1975 in Manila had a comparable intensity. After the fourteenth round, Frazier's coach,seeing his condition becoming critical, forced him to leave. Ali, winner, however had to be hospitalized because of his fatigue. He finally went to admit that his opponent was also a great champion.
POST SALE COMMENT
In this sale of sports memorabilia, basketball won. Seven championship rings of Julius "Dr. J" Ervingfrom the player's personal collection totaled $ 1.7 million including premium, highest at $ 460K.
Baseball also obtained a good result: $ 403K including premium for a bat used by Lou Gehrig.
I had not reference in boxing, but the price obtained for the trunks of Muhammad Ali, $ 173K including premium, seems excellent.
1972 Track and Moon
The gold medal of the barefoot runner Abebe Bikila at the Rome Olympics marathon in 1960 temporarily contradicts this trend. Yet four years later for his second Olympic victory, he wears Japanese shoes.
In 1964 in Oregon, a track athlete and his coach found a business for importing and selling running shoes of another Japanese brand. When the Japanese supplier changes its export strategy, they decide to create their own product line. In 1971 they found Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory.
Both founders are drawing attention to their new brand through innovation. In 1972 the Nike Moon Shoe is specially prepared for the US Olympic trials. The rubber sole is a pattern imitating the waffle, ensuring without spikes a better grip on the ground and leaving behind it a footprint vaguely reminiscent of the human footsteps on the Moon.
The first series of Moon Shoes is limited to twelve pairs assembled by hand. It is this model that triggers the gigantic success of Nike. One of them, probably the only one left unworn, was sold for $ 440K including premium by Sotheby's on July 23, 2019 over a lower estimate of $ 110K, lot 18.
Another pair will be sold by Goldin in an online sale that ends on December 7, lot 7. It is the only pair in the first series to have an additional padding of the sole. It is in excellent condition and the original laces are intact.
1973 the Racquet of Equality
2017 SOLD for $ 125k including premium
After 1962 the number one world women's title has rarely escaped Margaret Smith Court and Billie Jean Moffitt King. Their positions are opposite : Court is openly homophobic and King is a feminist activist who will be in 1981 the first sportswoman to publicly declare her homosexuality.
The first event gives right to Riggs : in May 1973 in a general indifference he beats Mrs Court on the ruthless score 6-3, 6-1.
Mrs King, who had not previously felt concerned by that challenge, is now unleashed. She wants to beat Riggs to promote the very recent Congressional amendment that ensures equal federal budgets for boys and girls in colleges. She even inflates the social stake : if she loses to Riggs, the equality of the sexes will recede by half a century.
On September 20, 1973 in Houston the match between Riggs and King is a big show attended by 30,000 spectators in the stadium and watched by 50 millions in broadcast. The passion of the woman supported her triumph : 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. For her action of a high consequence for the motivation of the girls and for the equality of the homosexuals, Mrs King receives in 2009 the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.
One of the two racquets used by Billie Jean King against Bobby Riggs is estimated $ 100K for sale by Bonhams in New York on December 6, lot 1068. The whereabouts of the other racquet are unknown.
1974 A Belt in the Jungle
2016 SOLD for $ 360K including premium
After being allowed to resume his gloves, Ali must face three great champions. Joe Frazier has reunified the world heavyweight title in 1970 and lost it in January 1973 to George Foreman. Ali lost to Frazier in 1971 and early in 1973 successively against Foreman and Ken Norton.
A rematch was won by Ali against Norton in September 1973 and against Frazier in January 1974. Ali becomes credible for the highest level but Foreman, physically formidable, seems unbeatable. At that point appears Don King, a boxing promoter who undertakes to organize the heavyweight championship between George Foreman, the defending champion, and Muhammad Ali, the challenger.
There is no limit to the ambitious Don King. Each of the fighters require $ 5M: King find that money by appealing the Président and future Maréchal Mobutu with the idea of a promotional event that will generate an international attention to Zaire. The match takes place in Kinshasa on October 30, 1974 and remains in the history of boxing as the Rumble in the Jungle.
Foreman is more muscular but Ali's strategy is clever. He spread before the fight some false information about the boxing style he was choosing to use. Foreman hits hard and fast but his weak point is endurance. Once on the ring Ali exhausts Foreman by an unexpected mobility. He becomes world heavyweight champion for WBC and WBA by a knockout in the 8th round.
On September 10 in Dallas, Heritage sells the WBC heavyweight championship belt awarded to Muhammad Ali after his victory in Kinshasa, lot 50040 announced with a guide value of $ 600K.
1985 Air Jordan 1 by Nike
2020 SOLD for $ 560K including premium by Sotheby's
narrated post sale
Jordan's success leads Nike to promote basketball by designing custom sneakers for the top champions. Jordan is assisted by the sports agent David Falk, a specialist in trade promotions for NBA players.
Nike produces for the use of Jordan pairs of shoes in size 13 for the left foot and 13.5 for the right foot, with air-cushioned soles. They are in the colors of the Bulls, white, black and red, a non-compliance with the rules of uniform clothing of the NBA. With an ingenious advertising intuition, Nike announces: "The NBA excluded them from the game but cannot prohibit you from wearing them".
Nike creates with Falk the name Air Jordan for this line of products. The success will be considerable. With a renewal of its models each year, Nike currently has in its catalog the Air Jordan XXXIV. The Nike Jordan cumulative sales have reached 100 million pairs. Michael Jordan is more generally one of the best marketed players in the history of sports, behind Tiger Woods.
On May 17, 2020, Sotheby's sold for $ 560K including premium over a lower estimate of $ 100K a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1 Player Sample shoes in the colors of the Bulls manufactured from February to April 1985, lot 1. The right shoe was signed by the champion with a black marker.
The NBA had indeed given way. MJ wore that pair in all games until October 1985 when his career was temporarily interrupted by a broken foot. The fashion for colorful sneakers was launched in basketball.
A pair of post-injury modification Air Jordan 1 sneakers game used by Michael Jordan in the 1985-1986 season was sold for $ 380K before fees by Gotta Have Rock and Roll on August 1, 2020, lot 2.
1985 From Air Ship to Air Jordan
2020 SOLD for $ 62.5K including premium
Jordan made his highly regarded NBA debut in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls. On August 13, Christie's in partnership with Stadium Goods sells an Air Ship MJ PE (Michael Jordan Player Exclusive) pair, meaning that this model is not available to other customers.
The red and white matches the official rules according to which the shoes must have the colors of the club and not be individualized by the players. This pair which was game used by Jordan in November and December 1984 is estimated $ 350K, lot 1.
The Air Jordan 1 model, released on November 17, 1984, met with disapproval in the NBA with its unauthorized three-color setup, adding black to red and white.
On August 22, Goldin sells as lot 4 an Air Jordan 1 pair marked 850102 TYPS. TY is the code for the factory in South Korea, PS stands for Player Sample and the six digits are a date code identifying the period January-February 1985.
In 1991 Jordan, who had given this pair to his teammate Gene Banks, retrieves it in the hands of the broadcaster Rick Lozano. He recognizes not only its authenticity but also its historical importance by signing it for Lozano with the comment "1st pair". Please watch the video shared by Goldin, including Jordan's signing act for Lozano.
The NBA has given in and the shoe model can develop its successful career. Here are now two pairs 850204 TYPS. The difference between the PS and the retail version is a lower collar height, at Jordan's request for his comfort. They are also matching Jordan's measurements, size 13 for the left foot and 13.5 for the right foot.
One of them, regularly used in matches by Jordan until October 1985, was sold for $ 560K including premium by Sotheby's on May 17, 2020. A pair with same date code for sale by Christie's on August 13 was a spare that has not been used. It is estimated $ 55K, lot 2.
Goldin : unsold
Christie's : Lot 1 unsold. Lot 2 SOLD for $ 62.5K including premium.
1985 the all time hit champion
The record of the number of hits seemed unbeatable. Pete Rose is the first to approach it. Mizuno prepares successively three special bats for the champion, each one to accompany a significant total.
The first bat is referenced R3631 when Rose manages to exceed the 3630 hits in National League by Stan Musial, retired since 1963. The second is named PR4000 : in April 1984 with the Montreal Expos, Rose is the second player in history to reach the prestigious threshold of 4000 hits.
Immediately after this feat, Rose returns to the club of his MLB debut, the Cincinnati Reds, both as a player and as a manager. In this glorious phase when he is approaching Ty Cobb's record, Rose no longer resists his passion for gambling.
Mizuno's third special bat is the PR4192. Rose uses it on September 11, 1985 to beat the all time record of the number of hits. He signs and dates it with a silver marker. Graded at the highest level, GU 10, by PSA/DNA, this bat is estimated $ 600K for sale by Heritage in Dallas on February 23, lot 80062.
Mizuno made a fourth bat for Rose, with reference ATHL (All Time Hit Leader). The champion ended his MLB player career in August 1986 with 4256 hits and an average of 0.303. He was banned for life from baseball in 1989 because of his bets on games in his last period with the Reds. He has not been rehabilitated. He is with Shoeless Joe Jackson the greatest champion remaining ineligible at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1986 One Man Basketball
2020 SOLD for $ 480K including premium
The supporters are happy : 1986-87 will be remembered as the best season of his prodigious career. He joins Wilt Chamberlain with over 3,000 points scored in a single season. His average is 37 points per game and he scores 40 points or more for 9 consecutive games. It was during the same season that he also became the best defender of all time, with 200 steals and 100 blocks.
On April 16, 1987, for the last home game, the champion of the Chicago Bulls scores 61 points. Five days later, a friend receives in the mail Jordan's still damp and smelly home jersey and shorts. This uniform is estimated $ 300K for sale online by Heritage on October 3, lot 53324.
The jersey is not a critical equipment for a basketball player, unlike shoes. Players do not use more than two home jerseys for the entire season.
The photo-matching cannot be complete for that time because the photographs were less numerous than today. The use of this jersey has been certified by the experts at Resolution Photomatching for five games from November 4, 1986 to March 29, 1987 and the shorts for two games, November 4 and 8, 1986. Many other use cases are likely.
In 1984 Sports Illustrated had dedicated a cover to Jordan with the title A Star is born. On November 17, 1986, the magazine glorified Jordan with the title One-Man Gang. The cover photo had been taken on November 4 during the first of the photo-matched games of the uniform to be sold.
1989 Pete Rose banished from Major League
2016 SOLD for $ 86K including premium
It had been offered in November 2012 by Goldin as lot 1 but was not sold. A highest bid at $ 255K including premium was reported by ESPN (Darren Rovell). It went also unsold in an online auction by Heritage in May 2014, lot 81923.
It is now available in an online auction closing on April 23 by SCP Auctions, lot 563.
I copy below my 2012 post :
Ethics of sport is a difficult matter that raises passions. The greatest champions may fall, whatever their record on the field.
Pete Rose was one of the best players in baseball, for sure one of the most complete athletes in that sport which he practiced from 1963 to 1986 as a player and from 1984 as manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
In 1989, the scandal is coming. Rose had never hidden his addiction to horse racing gambling. He would have also be tempted to bet on baseball, including on his own team, which is of course unacceptable.
The Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bart Giamatti, must act. He managed a compromise that will not prevent the shock to the public but stopped the tarnishing of his sport. Rose is banished from baseball, and in exchange the investigation is suspended.
The four page document recording the acceptance of the pact by Rose is signed by the player, by Giamatti and by Giamatti's deputy on August 23, 1989. The piece for sale was the copy kept by the fallen champion.
Eight days later, Giamatti died of a heart attack. Much later, figures are advanced concerning the money gambled by Rose on baseball around 1987. They were considerable.
1998 The Long Rush of Ricky Williams
2019 SOLD for $ 500K including premium
His 1998 season was exceptional. He accumulated 2,327 rushing yards during that single year. This brought his combined performance of four years with the Longhorns to 6,592 rushing yards, breaking the record of the NCAA, the federation of university football. In the same year he scored 6 touchdowns in a single match.
After these feats, Williams became a professional. Playing from 1999 to 2011 in the NFL, he accumulated 10,009 rushing yards despite long-term suspensions that overshadowed two seasons.
His 1998 season is rewarded with the Heisman Memorial Trophy, the most prestigious US amateur sport award designed to encourage a promising student highlighted by the football. The winner receives a bronze showing a player in action, weighing 16.8 Kg including its base.
Ricky Williams sold his bronze to a collector in private sale in 2014. The trophy is now estimated $ 500K for sale by Heritage online from Dallas on October 17, lot 53001.
This lot is not only outstanding by the champion's performance. Since 1999 the new trophies can no longer be sold by their laureates. The organizing club thus follows the example of the Oscars of cinema since 1950.
Heisman bronzes are attracting an increasing interest at auction. Here are two other examples from the 1980s and 1990s. The 1987 trophy presented to Tim Brown was sold for $ 430K including premium by Goldin on December 8, 2018. The 1994 trophy presented to Rashaan Salaam was sold for $ 400K including premium by SCP on January 20, 2018.
2003 The Rookie Patch of LeBron James
2020 SOLD for $ 264K including premium
Their high-end concept Exquisite Collection starts with basketball in the 2003-04 season. For $ 500, the collector buys a box that contains three packs of five cards each. The purchase is blind : it is not possible to know the list of views before unsealing the packaging.
This 2003-04 series consists of 42 cards of veterans and 36 cards of rookies from the NBA. Each pack includes a rookie card, titled Exquisite Rookie Patch. The rookie card has been prepared in 99 serialized copies and includes the player's photo, a patch from his jersey and his autograph signature. The back is a certificate of authenticity of the autograph signature and of the jersey.
Luckily for collectors, this 2003-04 season is also the rookie year of LeBron James, already famous for his precociousness and who will become one of the best basketball players of all time.
An unopened box, the contents of which were therefore unknown during the sale, was sold for $ 66K including premium by Heritage in July 2018.
A Rookie Patch of LeBron James, graded by Beckett NM/MT+ 8.5 for the card and 10 for the autograph, was sold for $ 264K including premium by Goldin in October 2019. Another copy is listed by Heritage in an online sale which ends on February 22, lot 50022. It is graded Mint 9 for the card and 10 for the autograph, also by Beckett. On these two examples the centering, subgraded 9.5, is almost perfect.
2007 The Final Home Run of Barry Bonds
2008 SOLD for $ 380K including premium by SCP
The home run is the feat around which the rules of baseball were established. Barry Bonds is the holder of both all time MLB homer records : 73 in a single season, set in 2001, and 762 in his MLB career.
The record for a career had been 755, by Hank Aaron in 1976. Barry Bonds equals and then exceeds it in August 2007. He scores his 762nd on September 5.
On September 8 his team, the San Francisco Giants, announce that they do not re-sign Bonds for the new season. The champion, aged 43, does not formally retire at that time but no other team will hire him as a player. On November 15 he is indicted for perjury for a 2003 testimony about his alleged use of steroids.
The tie and record setting baseballs of Bonds' 755th and 756th homers, listed in the same auction by SCP despite different provenances, were sold respectively for $ 187K and $ 750K including premium on September 15, 2007.
The ball from Bonds' 762nd homer was sold for $ 380K including premium by SCP on April 12, 2008. At that time there was still some doubt about the player's ability to continue his career and thus score further homers.
This ball was sold for $ 276K including premium by Goldin on May 11, 2019, lot 61. I narrated it before that sale.
The Goldin catalogue offered an option that the ball is signed and inscribed by Barry Bonds. It has been made. The autograph refers to the 762nd HR and the date of the feat, 9-5-07. The ball is now listed by SCP Auctions as lot 2 in an online sale closing on August 28.
(1965)-2008 the defining moment of neil leifer
The rematch for the world heavyweight boxing championship between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston takes place on May 25, 1965 in Lewiston. Leifer gets a press credential but he is very young and must leave the best seats to his competitors.
The match ends suddenly in the middle of the first round. Liston falls to the canvas as a result of a terrible blow from Ali that no one has actually seen. This situation is not impossible because of the rapidity of the movements in close combat but Ali himself is surprised. Liston is on the ground. Ali yells : "Get up and fight, sucker !".
Liston remains on the ground for two seconds too long. Ali has won. The suspicion of Liston's abandonment by cheating will never be lifted. The pressure from some influence groups related to his bad life was assumed but not demonstrated. Fortunately Ali is a great champion who deserved to retain his title and his reputation is not tarnished.
The photo taken by Leifer at Lewiston is perfect : he captured the moment of most intense tension of Ali's scream when his mouth was wide open. The champion seen full frontal is overpowered in an aerated surrounding that provides a dramatic dimension. Ali turns his back on the other photographers and we see between his legs the face of Leifer's rival, Herb Scharfman.
Leifer follows Ali throughout the champion's career. He makes a dye-transfer print 50 x 60 cm from his Lewiston's photo and frames it in a 64 x 92 cm format with other documents that include a dedication by Ali : "Thank you for such a great picture". Indeed this photo is the best proof of the honesty of Ali in the decisive match. One of the documents is dated 2008 which is probably also the date of the dye-transfer and of the mounting.
This photo is for sale by Guernsey's in New York on December 3, lot 1221 here linked on the bidding platform LiveAuctioneers.