One of the top game used bat collections is hitting the market, including Joe Jackson’s Black Betsy.
Sotheby’s and SCP Auctions is about to launch a new sports memorabilia and card catalog auction with an impressive group of game used bats among the items being offered. The sale will be conducted via phone, internet and through live bidding at Sotheby’s in New York on April 24.
The Bill Nowlin Bat Collection, formerly exhibited at the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame in Tampa, Florida, headlines the sale. Among the many significant bats presented from Nowlin’s collection is the only known “Shoeless” Joe Jackson Signature Model “Black Betsy” Game Bat Dating From His Major League Career (est. $200/300,000). The bat, manufactured in the 1917-21 period, is attributed to the well known “H&B find” of the mid-1980s and has been in Nowlin’s possession for nearly two decades.
A selection of items from the renowned sports memorabilia collection of Dr. Richard Angrist will also be for sale, including Mickey Mantle’s signed 1958 World Series bat (est. $80/$120,000) and one of the earliest known Ty Cobb signature model bats, circa 1910-15 (est. $80/120,000).
The sale will also feature property consigned directly from “Smokin” Joe Frazier, a significant collection of Lombardi-Era Green Bay Packers rings and Awards from scout Lew Anderson, and a set of four scorecards signed by Bobby Jones in winning The 1926 British Open Championship (est. $7/10,000).
The sale of 204 lots, expected to bring $2.8-4 million, will be on public exhibition at Sotheby’s New York from April 18-23, 2008.
The Bill Nowlin Bat Collection
The centerpiece of the April sale is a collection of baseball bats from the greatest hitters in the history of the game. Assembled by Bill Nowlin and formerly displayed at The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, the collection includes bats from legendary players such as Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Roger Hornsby, Jimmie Foxx, and Mickey Mantle as well as other members of the .400 Hitters Club, the 500 Home Run Club and the Triple Crown Club.
The marquee lot offered in Nowlin’s collection is Shoeless Joe Jackson’s 1917-21 signature model “Black Betsy” game bat — the only known career contemporary model (est. $200/300,000). Although his name will forever be associated with the messiest episode in baseball history and his lifetime ban and exclusion from Hall of Fame consideration are viewed by many as a travesty of justice, Joe Jackson has the reputation of being the greatest natural hitter in the game’s long history.
His unique batting style, later copied by Babe Ruth, led him to a batting average of .375, a record of 12 hits, no errors during the notorious 1919 White Sox World Series game against Cincinnati. The bat that is being offered for sale is the only known full name signature model manufactured by Louisville Slugger Inc that can be attributed to being used by Joe Jackson during his active Major League career.
(You can read about the era in an excellent Shoeless Joe Jackson biography: Shoeless: The Life and Times of Joe Jackson).
Also from Nowlin’s collection are Lou Gehrig’s 1923-25 H&B Rookie-Era Professional Model Game Bat (est. $60/80,000), a Jimmie Foxx 1939-43 H&B Professional Model Bat (est. $30/40,000) and a Mickey Mantle 1952-59 H&B Professional Model Bat (est. $25/35,000).
Property from The Dr. Richard Angrist Collection
Featured among the top items that will be offered this spring is an exclusive offering of ten lots from the esteemed collection of Dr. Richard Angrist.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens during the golden era of baseball in New York, Dr. Richard Angrist was raised to be a baseball collector. He came of age when the game’s holy trinity – the Yankees, the Dodgers and the Giants – all played just a subway ride from his home.
Among the highlights of he offering from Dr. Angrist’s collection is a rare circa 1910-15 Ty Cobb H&B (Early Signature Model) game bat (est. $80/120,000). Cobb broke into the majors in 1905 after being purchased from the minor leagues for $750. Manager Hughie Jennings made him a regular outfielder in 1907 and Cobb became the youngest player to win the batting title. It was the first of 12 batting crowns, including nine in a row, both still records today. When he retired from the game of baseball in 1928 he held 90 major league records, most of these achieved with his bat. This bat, demonstrating one of the earliest signature brand styles used by then JF Hillerich & Son Co., is documented by the most renowned independent bat experts as one of the finest examples among the scarce population of Cobb game bats known
Among the spectacular New York material from the Angrist collection is Mickey Mantle’s signed H&B 1958 World Series model game bat (est. $80/120,000). In the 1958 World Series, the defending champion Milwaukee Braves and perennial champion New York Yankees met again for the second time in as many years. Mickey Mantle, the Yankees offensive lightning rod, belted two homers in Game one. Over the course of his career “The Mick” would go on to set the all-time World Series home run record that still stands to this day.
Also included is Mantle’s own 1953 Yankee team signed panoramic photograph (est. $15/25,000). This 8 by 33 ½ inch black and white silver gelatin panoramic photograph features thirty-six members of the 1953 Yankees team. Every individual photographed has added their signature in blue ink from key players down to every coach, trainer and even the batboy.
Other items with the Angrist pedigree include a Jimmie Foxx 1925-28 rookie-era Side Written Game Bat (est. $40/60,000), Ted Williams 1957 Boston Red Sox cap (est. $15/$20,000) and a 1947 Joe DiMaggio H&B game used World Series bat(est. $60/80,000).
In addition to the Yankee material from in the Angrist collection, the sale will also include a collection of New York Yankees World Series rings (1978, 1996, 1999) from former Yankee Stadium organist Eddie Layton. For three decades, Layton and his 50,000-watt organ led millions of Yankee fans in “Charge” and “You’ve Got to Have Heart.”
When Layton retired on September 28, 2003, his last performance was to play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, with fans chanting “Eddie! Eddie!”; a tribute to a longtime member of the Yankees’ club. The rings, from years 1978 (est. $10/15,000), 1996 (est. $15/20,000), and 1999 (est. $18/25,000) commemorate the Yankees as 22nd, 23rd and 25th World Champions.
Vintage Baseball Cards
Highlighting a selection of vintage baseball cards in the auction is a 1915 Cracker Jack complete set of 176 in an original Cracker Jack album which has been consigned by the family of the original owner, Ernest Clark Gill (est. $50/75,000).
As an eleven year-old in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 1914, Ernie Gill pulled his first few Cracker Jack cards out of boxes of his favorite caramel coated popcorn treat. As with many young boys of the period who nurtured both a sweet tooth and love of baseball, he was captivated. The next year, he scraped together the requisite 25 cents to mail away for the entire 1915 set of Cracker Jack baseball cards and the additional 10 cents for the “Handsome Album” to keep them in.
The set stayed with Gill through several moves over the years. After graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston, he eventually became CEO and Chairman of the Board of Canada Life. Sotheby’s/SCP considers the complete set to be in virtually the same uncirculated condition in which it was received and placed in its paper album by Ernie Gill in 1915.
Also featured in the section of cards is a rare complete PSA graded 1968 Topps 3D Baseball Set of 12 (est. $15/20,000).
Game Worn Jerseys
Three historically significant New York Yankees game worn jerseys are among the standout lots in the sale including Joe DiMaggio’s 1936 New York Yankees rookie home yniform (est. $250,000 and up).
Manufactured by Spalding, the uniform, consisting of a jersey and pants is one of only two home pinstriped uniforms issued to Joe DiMaggio for his 1936 debut season (He was also issued two road uniforms, one of which resides in the Hall of Fame). Tagged exclusively for DiMaggio, the uniform features red chain stitching in the collar that reads “Joe DiMaggio 9″, while similar chain stitching in the pants reads, “Joe DiMaggio 9, 36″ referencing the player, uniform number, and year of issue. DiMaggio was only assigned the uniform number 9 for his rookie season, after which he would don number 5 for the remainder of his career.
Also featured is a circa 1933 Lou Gehrig road jersey (est. $150/200,000). The style of this road grey Yankees flannel jersey dates it to the pivotal 1933-34 period, when Ruth was in his final seasons in New York and the torch of Yankee greatness was being passed into Gehrig’s lone hand. Manufactured by Spalding, this jersey is tagged exclusively for Gehrig featuring red chain stitching in the collar that reads “L. Gehrig.”
A 1927 Dutch Reuther New York Yankees road jersey (est. $30/40,000) is also offered from the most prolific season in Yankees history.
Vintage Football Memorabilia
While football fans instantly recognize the names Lombardi, Hornung, Starr and Nitschke as the cornerstones of the 1960’s Green Bay Packer dynasty, there were plenty of other lesser-known but important pillars to their five championships.
Lew “Andy” Anderson joined the Packers in 1952, working weekends as a part-time talent and game scout. In a spectacular case of being in the right place at the right time, the former end at McAlester College in St. Paul became an indispensable part of Vince Lombardi’s scouting staff. For his efforts, Anderson was awarded this group of Packers’ championship rings, cufflinks and signed footballs, a throwback to the team’s glory days of the 1960’s Lombardi era.
Among the highlights are two NFL Championship rings — Anderson’s 1962 NFL 14K gold and diamond championship ring which marked the Packers’ second straight league title (est. $20/25,000); and his 1965 Green Bay Packers NFL 10K gold and diamond championship ring, which represented their 9th overall NFL title (est. $15/20,000). Also included is Anderson’s 1968 14K gold and diamond ring from Super Bowl II, which marked the Packer’s 33-14 victory over the Raiders and Lombardi’s final game.
Other highlights include Anderson’s 1966 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl I 10K gold cufflinks with handwritten note from Vince Lombardi (est. $6/8,000) and a group of three Green Bay Packers team signed footballs (est. $5/7,000).
The April sale includes material that comes directly from Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Born in 1944, the eleventh child of sharecroppers in South Carolina, Frazier took up boxing at the age of 17 and his raw talent was soon discovered and honed by trainer Yank Durham. Frazier won the Middle Atlantic Golden Gloves heavyweight champ for three straight years. His pro debut came on Aug. 16, 1965, and within 12 months he was 11-0, with every victory coming by knockout.
In 1971, Frazier was the undisputed and undefeated heavyweight champion. However, one obstacle stood in his way to standing with other all-time immortals in the ring – Muhammad Ali. On March 8, 1971, in the “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden, an unbeaten Frazier won a unanimous decision as he handed Ali the first defeat of his pro career. Included in the April auction is Frazier’s robe from the weigh-in of ” The Fight Of The Century” (est. $10/15,000). Frazier held on to his title for three years, before a younger and stronger George Forman took it away in Jamaica.
In 1999, Frazier and Ali’s third bout, nicknamed the “Thrilla in Manila” was ranked by ESPN as number 5 on their list of greatest fights of all time. In 1974, Ali won the second fight in a 12-round unanimous decision that didn’t win the belt for either. In 1975, the aging two heavyweights, now in their early 30’s, traveled a third world away to fight in Quezon City in the Phillippines.
Joe Frazier’s fight worn robe from the “Thrilla In Manila” is also among the highlights of the April sale (est. $30/50,000). Twenty-five thousand watched, Frazier enter the ring on October 1, 1975 wearing this blue cotton robe, studded ‘Joe Frazier’ on the back. As in the first two fights, at the first bell the action was furious as Ali walked flat-footed to the center of the ring and unleashed a flurry of combinations on Frazier. By the end of the 11th round, Frazier’s eyes were swelled to slits and he could no longer see Ali’s right hand as Ali hit him over and over unmercifully. The beating was even worse in Round 14, so much so that Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch, decided to stop the fight before the 15th. Frazier shouted “I want him boss,” but Futch replied, “It’s all over. No one will forget what you did here today”, and signaled to the referee to end the bout. Ali later claimed that this was the closest to dying he has ever been, and also announced, “Joe Frazier is the greatest fighter in the world, next to me.” No fight ever since has elicited the same level of passion and electricity.
Also included are a fight worn robe from Frazier vs Jerry Quarry – June 17, 1974 (est. $15/20,000) and a cornerman’s shirt made for Eddie Futch, Joe Frazier’s Trainer (est. $8/12,000).
Among the important golf memorabilia included in the sale are items from Presidents Gerald R. Ford and John F. Kennedy as well as legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones.
Jones was one of the greatest players of all times, dominating the game between 1923 and 1930. Included in the upcoming sale is a complete set Of rour scorecards signed By Bobby Jones from his victory in the 1926 British Open Championship at the Royal Lytham and St. Annes Club (est. $7/10,000). This win came right after he had won the US Open Trophy making him the first American amateur to win both the US and British Open. Bobby Jones would go on to win all 4 major championships in 1930 for a Gland Slam.
Also included is a set of President Gerald R. Ford’s golf clubs (est. $20/30,000). This set with ball, oversize tee, personalized and twice hand signed bag, were owned by Ford during his 1974-1977 presidency. Ford donated his set of clubs, and twice signed bag to raise money for the Cancer Fund Drive. Golf was a passion for President Ford who often shot in the 80’s and once scored a hole-in- one. It was also a passion for President Kennedy whose canvas and leather golf bag will also be included (est. $20/30,000) in the sale.
Additional highlights include the baseball Mel Ott’s 30th career home run signed baseball from 1929 (est. $20/30,000), Stan Musial’s signed 1941 St. Louis Cardinals rookie contract (est. $15/20,000), Mickey Mantle’s 300th home run ball, framed photo display and box xcore (est. $12/18,000), Mickey Mantle’s 501st inscribed, signed and dated home run baseball, May 17, 1967 (est. $15,20,000), and Bob Gibson 1962 St. Louis Cardinals road jersey (est. $30/$40,000).