If bidding on Olympic memorabilia intrigues you, it’s time to be Shy.
That’s not a contradiction. SCP Auctions is offering the gold medal won at the 1936 Summer Olympics by United States basketball player Carl Shy. It is one of several pieces of Shy’s memorabilia being offered by the California-based auction company in its Fall Premier online auction, which begins on November 18.
The 1936 Summer Games in Berlin have been immortalized because of the efforts of United States runner Jesse Owens, but it also marked the debut of basketball as an Olympic sport.
In addition to the gold medal — it comes with a letter of authenticity from the Shy family and has an minimum starting bid of $7,500 — other items that will be on the block include Shy’s certificate and medallion for being a member of the first U.S. Olympic basketball team (bidding will start at $750), his collection of Olympic pins and his FIBA (International Basketball Federation) medal from 1936 (minimum starting bid is $100), and his collection of 1930s amateur medals, charms and a trophy.
Also up for bid is the travel suitcase Shy used to go to the Olympics (minimum bid $500).
All of the items have letters of authenticity from the Shy family.
Born in Los Angeles on September 13, 1908, Shy was a 6-foot, 170-pound guard who played collegiately at UCLA. In the 1929 UCLA yearbook (The Southern Campus) it was noted that “Shy’s appellation has invited many a pun and witticism from his teammates, and to the contrary, many a quake and tremble from the opposition.”
Or, as The Associated Press reported in 1936, Shy, was “a guard that was far from bashful when he had the ball.”
After graduating from college, Shy played basketball for a team sponsored by Universal Pictures from 1934 through 1936. Along with fellow UCLA teammates Sam Balter, Carl Knowles, Don Piper and Frank Lubin, the Universal squad won a tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, punching a ticket to the Olympic Games.
In the finals, Universal upset the Globe Oilers, a team sponsored by the Globe Oil Refinery of McPherson, Kansas. Though they had lost to the Oilers in Denver, the Universals got some revenge with a 44-43 victory. Seven players from the Universal team, including their coach, James Needles, joined with players from the Globe Oilers to form the first U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team. In July 1936, the 14-man team headed for Germany.
In Berlin, the U.S. basketball squad basically got a bye into the second round. Spain, their first-round opponent, forfeited the game by not showing up. That country was in the middle of the Spanish Civil War and therefore did not compete.
The U.S. beat Estonia 52-28 in the second round, and Shy scored 10 points for the squad’s second-highest total (behind Lubin’s 13 points). Those were the only points Shy scored at the Olympics; he played in three games.
The games were played outdoors in Berlin, on a converted clay tennis court. The gold medal game against Canada on August 14, 1936, was played in inclement weather. It drizzled during the first half as the U.S. squad took a 15-4 lead at the intermission. The drizzle became a downpour in the second half, turning the court into muddy puddles. Each team scored just four points in the second half, as the Americans prevailed 19-8.
After the Olympics, Shy played for the Hollywood Athletic Club squad. He later became an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He was a detective by the time he retired. He died in Orange County, California, on December 17, 1991.
The online auction ends on Saturday, December 5.