Strangest Sports Memorabilia of 2008

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We highlight some of the ‘less than museum quality’ type pieces which entered the sports memorabilia hobby.

It’s the type of stuff that’s tucked on page 456 of the auction catalog.

The things that wouldn’t quite go along with your autographed football or vintage baseball card collection.

Yet it is the type of material that often generates a little national publicity. You can like it. You can hate it. But sometimes you’ve got to laugh at it.

On the heels of our debut list of 2007, Sports Collectors Daily wraps up another year with the list of the top five Strangest Sports Memorabilia of 2008. We have only scratched the surface with our list, but next year we’ll try to take better notes.

Abe Lincoln hair card 5. Hair Cards: 2007 was the year of the error card. Derek Jeter/George Bush/Mickey Mantle on a Topps baseball card. Leon Washington flying an unintentional double bird at the camera on his Bowman football rookie card. 2008 will go down as the year famous hair invaded our card packs. There was George Washington hair. Abe Lincoln hair. Geronimo. Even a woolly mammoth. If you dig DNA with your packs, that’s fine, but it makes us miss bubble gum even more. We do wish,however, that someone had found the sense to create this product 22 years ago. We would have paid big bucks for one of Oscar Gamble’s famous ’76 Topps Traded locks.

4. Joe Montana’s Very Personal Effects: Joe Cool was just Joe Average when he was a Notre Dame underclassman. A guy with a girlfriend. A funny thing happened, though. Montana became a Hall of Fame quarterback and the relationship with the girl–one he eventually married– went south. Somehow Kim Moses wound up with Joe’s old student ID card and his college letter of intent. But she also hung onto some of the notes and letters he’d written her way back when. Some of the content was rather personal but it was on display for all to see last spring when she consigned it to Heritage Auctions. A lot of three love letters went for $3346. Someone paid $1912 for wedding memorabilia. The letter of intent led the way with a $6572 bid. His ID card even brought $2151.

3. Smelly Lockerroom Stuff: There are those who believe sports collectors are somewhere south of juvenile. "Jock sniffers" is a phrase some snootier sportswriters have been known to use. But you really can’t argue if you bid on some of the things which came to auction in 2008. Like Thurman Munson’s old shower sandals. The late Yankee catcher’s widow Diana kept everything for nearly 30 years after her husband’s death in a plane crash, including a pair of his shower sandals. They sold for $1100 in the All Star Fan Fest auction. SportsWorld, a Massachusetts sports memorabilia shop, used its connections in the big league clubhouses to snare some spandex used by Alex Rodriguez, Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis. Who would want ballplayer underwear? A crazy fan who read the stories that appeared in newspapers all over New England (or here). ARod’s undies sold for $420.

2. Morganna Returns…Sort of: Maybe politics and baseball cards aren’t exactly}kissin’ cousins, but the card companies managed to pair them as this year’s campaign dragged on. In fact, Upper Deck’s Presidential Predictor series caused a bit of a stir when it parodied Hillary Clinton as Morganna the Kissing Bandit. A number were sold on eBay for over $1,000 before the company pulled it from circulation as "inappropriate". At least that was their story and they were sticking to it.

1. David Ortiz Goes Underground: The jersey wasn’t game-worn, but it was the first piece of memorabilia sold out of the new Yankee Stadium. A Red Sox fan working on the construction project buried a replica Big Papi jersey in the cement. He bragged about it. Word got out and the ever-uptight Yankees felt it was their duty to have some other construction guys (Yankee fans one and all) dig it out. In a story that seemed to drag on for months, it finally came to a happy ending. After threatening a suit, the pinstripers decided to chill out and auction the jersey for the Jimmy Fund. It sold for $175,000 to Massachusetts car dealer Kevin Meehan.