Most may not sell for the premium prices attained by some of the industry's premier trading cards or autographs, but vintage sports programs are often more scarce, more interesting and occasionally, more valuable. It's also a segment of the hobby not dominated by baseball. Old football programs from pro and college sports were among the highest selling sports publications sold on eBay over the last 30 days.
Sports Collectors Daily tracked sales prices across the category and found football programs to be remarkably strong. These aren't the most rare programs the hobby has ever seen, but each brought tremendous history to the table and bidders responded.
Here are the top 5 selling programs on eBay in the last 30 days:
1) 1926 Rose Bowl: Alabama vs Washington. Any Alabama football memorabilia draws a crowd of bidders. The Tide has a legion of collectors across the country who aren't shy about spending big money for rare, vintage items.
2) 1933 Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cardinals: Before the Steelers, Pittsburgh cheered the Pirates football team. This program, from early in the '33 season, was in fair condition but Pittsburgh is a hotbed for football collectors who knew they weren't likely going to see another one of these for a long time. Played at Forbes Field. Sold for $2,576.
3) 1946 Cleveland Browns vs Miami Seahawks: This game oozed history. The first game in the history of the Browns' franchise, marking the pro debuts of several Hall of Famers including Otto Graham. More importantly, Bill Willis and Marion Motley became the first black professional football players (since the 1930s) on September 6, 1946 when they helped the Browns beat the Miami Seahawks, forerunner of the Baltimore Colts. Sold for $1,995.
4) 1871 Chicago White Stockings Scorecard: This National Association scorecard dates from the dawn of pro baseball.
Simple in design, but a museum-type piece. The 'Sox' would play the New York Mutuals on this summer day. Later in the year, the team's ballpark would burn during the Great Chicago Fire, leading to its disappearance from the Association for the next two years as the city tried to recover. Sold for $1,300.
5) 1924 Nebraska vs Notre Dame: The fan who bought this program watched Knute Rockne coach. Think about that for a second. Then consider this: The game was during the senior year of the legendary Four Horsemen: Jim Crowley, Don Miller, Elmer Layden, and Harry Stuhldreher.
This was a big win for the Irish and helped propel them to the national championship and an undefeated season. Sold for $1,150.