SCP Auctions’ “Mid-Summer Classic” will begin on Wednesday, August 6, and run through Saturday, August 23, at www.scpauctions.com. More than 850 top-quality lots will be up for bid including nearly 300 items from the coveted Helms Athletic Foundation/LA84 Collection. The Helms Athletic Foundation was a sports organization founded in 1936 by W.R. “Bill” Schroeder, a private sports memorabilia collector, and Paul Helms, the owner of the once famed Helms Bakery in Los Angeles, which was the “official baker” of the 1932 Summer Olympic Games. Schroeder started collecting various sports artifacts in 1932 with the dream of one day sharing them for public viewing. His vision became a reality when Helms agreed to sponsor the venture in 1936.
In order to house Schroeder’s ever-growing sports collection, the Helms Halls of Fame building was unveiled shortly thereafter in Culver City, California. Situated next door to the Helms Bakery, it was devoted to recognizing the top athletes in individual sports. It actually served as a precursor to many of the professional sports halls of fame we know today located in places like Cooperstown, New York (baseball, opened in 1939); Canton, Ohio (football, 1963); and Springfield, Massachusetts (basketball, 1968). Although the museum eventually relocated in the early ‘80s to smaller venues in both west Los Angeles as well the West Adams District, the collection continued to be maintained and well preserved.
“It’s so diverse and covers such a broad range of sports,” said Dan Imler, vice president of SCP Auctions. “One thing that makes this collection so special is the fact that its founders, Paul Helms and Bill Schroeder, built such a network within the sports world that most all of these items were what we call ‘primary source acquisitions.’ They got these items right from the players or the players’ families. They knew these people, they had relationships with these people so that’s what really makes it special.”
The Helms/LA84 Collection runs the gamut of sports artifacts, from medals and memorabilia, to trophies and awards. It was once considered the most complete sports library in the world. Among the noteworthy items in the collection that will be part of SCP’s August auction are Jack Dempsey’s autographed and inscribed 1918 fight-worn boxing gloves used to knockout Fred Fulton; a mid-1970s match-worn tennis outfit that belonged to former World No. 1 female player Billie Jean King; and the famous “John Moores Trophy,” a sterling silver masterpiece created in 1938 to recognize the World’s Amateur Baseball Championship.
Three of the biggest sports covered in depth in the Helms/LA84 Collection are baseball, basketball and football. From turn-of-the-century vintage World Series pennants to signed and game-used baseballs from the pre-war era, the national pastime boasts some of the collection’s most extraordinary finds. Take New York Yankees left-handed pitcher Herb Pennock’s signed and dated D&M baseball mitt from Game 3 of the 1927 World Series, for instance. Not only did Pennock pitch a complete game victory – 8-1 versus the Pittsburgh Pirates – but he was throwing a no-hitter through the first seven innings.
When it comes to basketball, the Helms/LA84 Collection lineup boasts some monumental game balls from decades past. For example, the late Wilt Chamberlain, one of the sport’s most recognizable names, played his very first professional NBA game in an exhibition battle between the St. Louis Hawks and the Philadelphia Warriors at the newly opened Los Angeles Sports Arena. The date was September 30, 1959, and Chamberlain poured in 28 points as his Warriors defeated the Hawks, 106-102.
A commemorative ball from that day is part of the auction and sports 30 different signatures that were collected from both teams that evening including, from the Warriors: Chamberlain, Ernie Beck, Bob Ferry, Cal Ramsey, Tom Gola, Joe Ruklick and Guy Sparrow; along with Hawks’ players Bob Pettit, Slater Martin, Clyde Lovellette, Cliff Hagan, Ed McCauley, Hub Reed, Johnny McCarthy and Dave Gambee.
From the football field, the Helms/LA84 Collection includes a vintage circa 1955 Heisman Trophy, complete with the original list of 20 winners from 1935 (John Berwanger, Univ. of Chicago) through 1954 (Alan Ameche, Univ. of Wisconsin). It is an exact duplicate of the original Heisman Trophy on display at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City. The impressive award measures 17” wide, 8” deep and 6” tall upon which rests a 14” bronze cast of a ball carrier running down field for extra yardage. The trophy itself weighs 92 pounds.
Bidding will open to registered bidders on Wednesday, August 6, and conclude Saturday, August 23. The auction will be conducted online at SCPAuctions.com. Proceeds will be used to advance the work of the LA84 Foundation. For more information, please visit www.LA84.org. For information on how to participate in the auction, visit www.scpauctions.com or call (949) 831-3700.