Collect Auctions will offer the first and likely the only lot of its kind that will ever find its way into the auction circuit when its auction opens for bidding today. Offered is a run of autographed Topps Baseball sets (including Traded sets), from 1974-1990. There are more than 14,000 signed cards included and since League Leaders, Rookies and other singles through the years have more than one player per card, that means there are probably more than 15,000 autographs in the lot.
The collection of signed Topps sets is more than 99 percent complete and has around 30 Nolan Ryan signatures, as well as dozens of Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson and many other major stars and Hall of Famers from the era.
Often, however, it isn’t the high profile players whose autographs are the hardest to find. It’s the little-known players, those who didn’t make the majors, or those who had a cup of coffee in “the show” and then fell off the face of the earth, or even the foreign players who go back to their native countries and never come back to the states.
Players like Byron McLaughlin (1979-1981 Topps), who was out of baseball in 1983 and working in a counterfeit consumer goods operation in Mexico. He pleaded guilty to money laundering, posted bail and fled, with his current whereabouts “unknown.” Or Alan Wiggins (1983-1987 Topps), who by the time his 1987 Topps Traded card came out, was out of baseball, deep into drug dependency, which eventually led to him being the first MLB player to die of AIDS. Or Lyman Bostock (1976-78 Topps), who was shot during a trip to Gary, Indiana on a road trip to Chicago and died on Sept. 23, 1978.
Consider Bob Moose (1975 and 1976 Topps), who was killed in an automobile accident in 1976. Or even Win Remmerswaal (1981 Topps), who was out of baseball by 1980 and returned to his native Netherlands, before lapsing into a coma in 1997. He now lives in a nursing home unable to sign.
There’s Joe DeSa (1986 Topps) who played his final game in 1985 and died in an automobile accident in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Dec. 20, 1986. Aurelio Monteagudo (1974 Topps and 1974 Topps Traded) played his final game in 1973 and left the states to play in the Venezuelan Professional League and the Mexican League before dying in an automobile accident in 1990.
Dick Howser (1987 Topps) was best known for guiding the Kansas City Royals to the 1985 World Series title, but died of a brain tumor on June 17, 1987, just a short time after the Topps set hit retailer shelves. Other scarce signatures in the collection include German Gonzalez, Donnie Moore, Mike Marshall, Pete Vuckovich, Bo Diaz, Ramon Romero, Nino Espinosa and others.
There are four different Thurman Munson signed cards, with 1974, 1976, 1978 and the virtually impossible 1979 Topps single. Since Munson died August 2, 1979, there wasn’t much time to sign (he was also a notoriously tough signer) so the number of these in existence is arguably five or less. The run is missing the 1975 and 1977 Munson singles.
The autographed card lot also includes signed rookie cards of everyone from 1974 Topps Dave Winfield to 1989 Topps Ken Griffey Jr. In between the two, there’s 1975 Topps George Brett, Robin Yount and Jim Rice; 1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley; 1977 Topps Dale Murphy; 1978 Topps Eddie Murray and Paul Molitor; 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith; 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson; 1981 Topps Tim Raines and Kirk Gibson; 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. (base and traded versions); 1983 Topps Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn and Ryne Sandberg; 1984 Topps Don Mattingly and Daryl Strawberry; 1985 Topps Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Mark McGwire (Olympic card) and Dwight Gooden; 1987 Topps Greg Maddux, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro; and 1989 Topps Griffey and Randy Johnson.
This entire signed set run from 1974-1990 is packaged neatly in binders and nine-pocket sleeves, except for the singles which have been pulled out and arrive in PSA/DNA slabs. All other singles have been pre-certified by PSA/DNA.
At the end of the auction, the signed sets will be sold to the highest aggregate bidding, whether that is the sum of the individual sets or the highest bid for the complete set run. The Collect Auctions website will automatically reflect whichever portion has received the highest bid total.
The full auction begins today and will also include a Bobby Orr circa 1969-72 game-used Boston Bruins black jersey, a large variety of vintage vending, wax, cello and rack packs, high-grade signatures of Lou Gehrig and Christy Mathewson, a nice selection of vintage sets and much more.
Bidding can be done online at www.collectauctions.com or by calling 888-463-3063.