Baseball is back and among its charms is the memorabilia that connects one generation to the next. New York-based GottaHaveIt! Collectibles (GottaHaveit.com) is offering dozens of one-of-a-kind items from some of the game’s icons in its newly launched Opening Day Sports Auction.
The event, which runs now through April 13, includes 150 lots including what may be the finest Christy Mathewson signed check in existence. Boldly signed and dated Oct. 15, 1924, the check was written less than a year before the beloved pitcher would die of tuberculosis in Saranac Lake, N.Y. at age 45. Penned in Matty’s flowing script, the $5.75 check is actually made out to the upstate village where he spent his final years hoping for relief from the ailment that began with exposure to mustard gas in World War I. Bids have already been placed on the lot, which carries a $12,000-15,000 pre-sale estimate and a conservative minimum bid of $5,000.
Two other inaugural Hall of Fame class members are represented in the auction. There’s a 1937 hand-written letter from Cy Young to a Philadelphia area school and another Young signed note. No less than three Ty Cobb signed letters are up for bid as well including one that bears two Cobb autographs.
The auction also features two Babe Ruth signed and inscribed items; a ‘Home Run Special’ baseball and a photograph bearing The Babe’s dark fountain pen autograph which is among the finest signed Ruth photographs extant (minimum bid $3,500).
A rookie era game used Derek Jeter autographed bat is another highlight. Signed in silver ink, the block-letter bat is uncracked and appears to be one of the best early Jeter bats ever to hit the market.
The auction is also offering one of the most unique collections of sports memorabilia you’ll see with the Nik Kleinberg Collection. Kleinberg was the founding Director of Photography for Sports Illustrated for Kids in the 1980s and ESPN the Magazine in the 1990s. Some of the props he used during those often humorous magazine cover shoots are in this auction.
Some of the most interesting pieces include a glove with a hole burned through it from a well-received 1991 cover of SI For Kids featuring Nolan Ryan and his ‘blazing’ fastball and the actual wedding dress worn by Ricky Williams in the infamous 1999 ESPN the Magazine cover photo of Williams and a tuxedoed Saints coach Mike Ditka who had just traded virtually an entire draft class to obtain the services of the young Texas Longhorns running back.
All of these items are new to the hobby and many are signed including a Cal Ripken cap with a note to Kleinberg joking about his serving as a stand in for Lou Gehrig during one of those photo sessions (see photo at left).
GottaHaveIt!’s buyer’s premium for this auction is an industry low 10%. All lots can be viewed at www.Gottahaveit.com. For more information or to register, visit the website or call (800) 950-1202 or (212) 750-7900.