Just days after Major League Baseball announced plans for an annual Lou Gehrig Day at ballparks across the country, Love of the Game Auctions is bringing the original Ironman’s rookie card to market.
LOTG launched its Spring 2021 Premier catalog sale on Wednesday night with Gehrig’s 1925 Exhibit card as the headliner. One of the hobby’s rarest pre-War rookie cards, the copy offered by LOTG is graded VG 3 (MK) by PSA. The only significant flaw, other than mild corner wear and chipping at the edges, is a tiny erasure on the back which accounts for the qualifier. It’s one of only 36 graded by PSA. Another copy, rated PSA 6 (MK) sold for $800,000 in January.
Also featured is a fresh-to-the-hobby 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, graded 5.5 (EX+) and consigned by a non-collecting family.
“The card is a real beauty,” explains Auction Director Al Crisafulli. “The family had learned about our recent record-breaking sale of a fresh 1952 Mantle a few months ago and reached out to ask about selling theirs. Their card was part of an inheritance that had been locked away in a trunk for decades. When the family read about the recent skyrocketing price of sports cards, they reached out.” Bidding for the card surpassed $30,000 in the opening hours.
Love of the Game has created a special section in their Spring auction catalog, devoted exclusively to “Great Cards” – important cards from throughout hobby history, from the 19th Century to the present. The earliest cards among them are three Hall of Fame cabinets from the N173 Old Judge Cigarettes issue of 1888. The most recent are rookie cards of Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Tom Brady. Inbetween are highlights like the rare 1907 Dietsche Postcards Ty Cobb “Fielding” pose (widely considered his rookie card), midgrade examples of all four Babe Ruth cards from the 1933 Goudey issue, and a 1951 Bowman Willie Mays, graded NM 7 by PSA.
“These cards represent more than a century of highlights from our fantastic hobby,” said Crisafulli. “We’re presenting them not as blue-chip investments, although they probably are – we’re presenting them as a look through hobby history, a curated selection of sports artifacts from throughout the last 130 years. We hope to continue to present this type of offering in our future auctions.”
The auction features more than just cards, though. Memorabilia items from multiple sports and autographs are also among the 582 lots up for grabs. Among the more unique pieces: a 1970 Houston Astros flannel uniform worn by pitcher Jim Bouton.
“Jim Bouton was one of the most colorful characters in the history of the game,” explained Crisafulli. “His controversial book Ball Four made him a celebrity, and later in his career he became a popular broadcaster, and co-inventor of everybody’s favorite baseball gum, Big League Chew. This uniform comes from his last season (not counting his 1978 comeback), as Ball Four was being published. He was quite literally wearing this uniform as he was mulling over the book’s amazing final line, ‘You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.’”
Avid collectors are probably familiar with the baseball art of Graig Kreindler. His piece, “Strange Complexities,” an original painting of Hall of Famer Branch Rickey, is among the items in the sale.
Known for his recent exhibition of more than 200 works commissioned and displayed as part of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s “Black Baseball in Living Color” art exhibit, Kreindler has a waiting list more than five years long for private commissions, and his art rarely becomes available for resale.
The auction also features a host of advertising display material from the collection of former broadcaster Ted Patterson. Love of the Game has been offering items from the Baltimore legend’s collection over the past year and will continue throughout 2021. Patterson, a longtime friend of Love of the Game, passed away in February.
There is also a large selection of 19th and early 20th century cards and memorabilia, a host of seldom-seen or unique items and numerous vintage yearbooks and scorecards.
The auction will close on Saturday, April 3, with registration and bidding underway on the LOTG website.
LOTG’s next auction Is scheduled for this summer and consignments are currently being accepted.