It’s not Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris or Jeter but for those who collect Yankees memorabilia, a 14-inch promotional item dating to the early 1960s is a jaw-dropper.
Or maybe a head-bobbler.
It’s the holy grail of baseball bobbleheads, a 14-inch tall doll created to promote a series of smaller versions that would be sold across the country.
The oversized Yankees nodder was born in Japan and that’s where only the third known example enters the U.S. auction marketplace through Heritage Auctions, which is offering the rare piece in its October Platinum Night Auction. The finest of the three known, it’s expected to sell for $40,000 or more.
The ultra-rare relic has been consigned by the grandson of a Japanese national and co-owner of the Otagiri Mercantile Company that distributed it nearly 60 years ago. The consignment increased the number of known examples from two to three. One of the others sold for nearly $60,000 in 2015. Forbes’ David Seideman reported then that the oversized bobbleheads were created “to introduce the regular line of shorter models which are about the size of the ceramic models given away at ballparks today.”
According to Heritage, Otagiri created “five or fewer” promotional bobbleheads for each of the NFL teams of the era, but only one model to show off its baseball line and as a powerhouse of the era, it would seem the Yankees were a logical choice.
The bobblehead has been well-preserved, with some age-toning of the white uniform and very light spots. The head has been reattached to the spring inside—a common fix for early 1960s bobbleheads.
Bidding opened this week and will continue through October 17.