The Major League Baseball FanFest Auction takes place a week from tonight in Anaheim, but bidding is already underway online.
Hunt Auctions, which is again heading up the event, is offering hundreds of pieces of baseball memorabilia from vintage to modern. The centerpiece is the T206 Honus Wagner proof sheet that is now resting in an SGC holder. The strip has been sold before, but it’s getting a lot of attention this time, thanks in part to a media tour the auction company is currently on leading up to the live auction.
The current high bid is $121,000. It could sell for double that–or more.
Long-time collector/dealer Bill Zimpleman was the first dealer to own it after buying it years ago.
“My friends and I were doing a buying weekend in Pittsburgh at one of the local hotels,” he recalled. “My friend, who was a sportscaster on the local news, asked if he could come over with a camera crew and do an interview and picture some cards. I brought in my T206 set missing the big three. During the interview he asked why I had an empty spot in my collection and I went on to tell him the story of the Honus Wagner card.”
“They ran this piece on the nightly news (and) the next morning I was sitting in the hotel room when a man & woman came in. The woman had a shopping bag in her hand. The man pulls the Wagner strip from his pocket and says ‘I hear you’re looking for this’. I looked at the strip which was folded in half and saw that it was a T206 proof strip.”
After agreeing on a price, the man brought out a few other Wagner items that Zimpleman also purchased.
“He told me he lived in Wagner’s old house. I told him that I had been there when Wagner’s sisters lived there and none of this stuff was there. He said there was nothing in the house when he moved in but one day he was in the garage and pulled down a ladder to the upper part of the garage. What a find. There were panoramic pictures of the Pirates….all kinds of Wagner pictures, plus so much more.”
Zimpleman and fellow dealer Mike Wheat bought it all. “Now that was a fun day,” he recalled.
It was the Wagner, of course, that helped put T206 baseball cards so high up on the hobby’s ladder.
Among the other items on the auction block next week are one of the two bats Mickey Mantle was issued for the 1951 World Series, a Roberto Clemente team-signed glove from the 1960s, a pristine Babe Ruth/Mel Ott baseball and more.
David Hunt appeared on WPIX-TV to talk about the auction and show off some of the goods: