The hunt goes on for vintage pieces still stuck in storage. Yes, they’re still out there as some of the stories from 2007 attest.
Archaeologists dream of the day they uncover a fossil lying undisturbed deep in the soil. Those who prefer sports artifacts to ancient bones might not gain the scholarly acclaim and national media attention, but hey, it’s our stuff. The stuff that makes us envious when someone else locates a collection or special piece. Hard as it may be to believe, closets and attics across North America are still hiding pro sports memorabilia of interest to collectors.
2007 brought a treasure trove of items which entered the hobby for the first time. They ranged from old game worn jerseys, gifted or sold long before any self-respecting adult actually collected them, to decades-old unopened boxes of baseball cards found at garage sales.
In no particular order, here’s a list of what we thought were among the coolest discoveries that made headlines in our pages during 2007.
Lou Gehrig “Boy Scout” baseball: Yes, there was once a time when Major League superstars would show up at local boy scout dinners. Lou Gehrig dropped by one such awards dinner in 1937 and signed a baseball for 15 year-old Donald Starks. The sweet spot signature ball was a keepsake for Starks, but he finally consigned it to Memory Lane Auctions, which sold it this summer. Not the most valuable ball ever, but the perfect symbol of another time.
Early Baseball Rules: The Olympic baseball club of Philadelphia was playing baseball seriously enough in 1838 to create their own “constitution”, a printed list of by-laws distributed to team members. After over three decades in hiding, the original document made its way to Robert Edward Auctions.
1964 Topps Stand Ups Box: Why do millions of people go to garage sales? Because…say it with me…”you never know what you might find”. One east coast resident knew he had something good when he found an old box of unopened packs at a dirt cheap rate. Some quick investigation revealed the contents to be 1964 Topps Stand-Ups. Flooded with offers once it hit eBay, the box was sold to a buyer for Mastro Auctions, which sold it in a catalog sale for $35,864.
Bobby Orr in the Closet: A gift from the ultra-popular Boston Bruins’ Hall of Famer to a young boy over thirty years ago finally came out of the closet and showed up to oohs and ahs at a Canadian sports memorabilia show. The owner decided to consign it to Classic Auctions of Montreal, which sold it for over $80,000 to a Quebec businessman.
High Grade Vintage Find: A family visit led one man to the collection of his wife’s late grandfather, a phenomenal horde of T-cards and Tin Tops from the early part of the century including never-before-seen pristine examples of the Joe Jackson and Jim Thorpe Colgan’s Chips discs. Split into lots, they were sold by Mastro Auctions.
Babe Ruth rookie cards x 2: An east coast family learned of the sale of a 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth, then realized they had one. When Rob Lifson of Robert Edward Auctions showed up to take a look, he found they also had a team photo card of the ’14 Orioles. The consigned pair brought over $252,000.
Cards in the kitchen: A woman remodeling her kitchen peeled back the baseboards and out popped some early 1950s Topps cards. No Mantle rookie but a few 1952 Topps saw the light of day for the first time in over 50 years. It won’t result in fabulous wealth but it goes to show there are still cards hidden in the strangest places.
Gehrig Jersey Saved from the Scissors: Major League teams are keenly aware of the collector value of their game worn jerseys now but back in the 1930s, they just wanted to get rid of them. The manager of a church softball team spent $9 each for a stack of them in the late 30s, hoping to outfit his team. The jersey once worn by Gehrig was saved in case patches were needed. Thankfully they weren’t, the team folded after one season and the jersey was preserved, sold in the fall by Hunt Auctions.
Black Sox baseball: Jake Mintz was a private investigator who worked the concourses and stands at Cleveland Indians games during the 1920s. He passed on a small collection of autographed baseballs to family members who consigned them to Huggins & Scott Auctions in 2007. One ball, signed by Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver not long after the Black Sox scandal, starred in a fall auction, bringing $69,000.
1st All Star Game Lineup Cards: Luckily, the family of NL manager Bill McKechnie had saved the lineup cards from the 1933 All Star game. They were consigned to Hunt Auctions’ sale just prior to this year’s game in San Francisco and sold for $138,000.