In a perfect world, Dr. Thomas Newman—“Tommy” to those who knew him the best—would be enjoying the start of a new season—and buying more baseball cards for his ever-growing collection. Sadly, the remarkable life of one of the top trading card and sports memorabilia hobbyists was unexpectedly cut short by COVID-19 in late January.
A gifted neurologist who was still practicing in his hometown at age 73, the Tampa, Florida native had a lifelong passion for sports cards and sports memorabilia.
“He was a true collector,” recalled J.P. Cohen of Memory Lane Auctions, who would see his friend and client each year at the National Sports Collectors Convention. “If he paid $10,000 for a card he really wanted and a week later, someone offered him $50,000, he’d turn it down. He just had an unquenchable thirst for sports collectibles. He loved it all.”
Now, Dr. Newman’s collection—featuring high-grade examples of some of the hobby’s best and most iconic cards—will get a much-deserved spotlight when Memory Lane brings it to market in a special standalone auction in June. Cohen believes it could bring in more than $20 million.
The Newman collection will accommodate both the vintage and modern enthusiasts, covering a span of some 150 years with regard to the miraculous array of cards and memorabilia offered in a world class compilation. An 18-foot moving truck was used to transport it all.
The list of cards that will be available is what you’d expect to find in a hobby hall of fame, but one of them may well become the most valuable baseball card ever sold. Newman owned the highest graded example of the 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53. His PSA 9 stands alone in the population report—with none higher.
It carries a $500,000 minimum bid but is expected to challenge the $5.2 million sale of a PSA 9 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle that made headlines in January. As for the ’52 Mantle—there’s one of those too– a PSA 8 that will likely be one of multiple seven-figure cards when bidding ends.
The collection also features a PSA 9 copy of the ’33 Goudey Ruth #181 as well as one of the best known examples of Ruth’s 1916 Sporting News rookie card—one of four rated PSA 6 (two higher).
Other Ruth cards include a PSA 6 1921 Exhibit, a 1922 E120 American Caramel PSA 5, a PSA 7 1932 U.S. Caramel, a PSA 8 1933 Goudey Sport Kings and an amazing “Pop 1” PSA 7 1921 E121 American Caramel Ruth that stands as the highest graded PSA example.
Top Lou Gehrig cards include a 1925 Exhibit rookie card graded PSA 5—one of just four at that level with three higher—as well as both Gehrig cards from the ’33 Goudey set, each graded PSA 8.
One of the most formidable Joe DiMaggio cards extant will be available for the taking. A miraculous “Pop 1” SGC 8.5 1936 World Wide Gum “true” rookie card of the Yankee Clipper proudly stands alone at the top of BOTH the SGC & PSA “Pop” charts, with its closest peer residing in a near-mint holder.
Mantle’s 1951 Bowman rookie card, graded PSA 8, headlines a run of the late Yankee great’s cardboard that also includes mint condition examples from the late 1950s and beyond. Newman’s 1954 Bowman and 1941 Play Ball Ted Williams cards, each graded PSA 9, take a backseat to none.
Tobacco cards abound, with higher grade 1911 T3 Turkey Red examples of Cy Young and Ty Cobb, a 1910 E98 Set of 30 Cobb graded PSA 9, an 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions Cap Anson (PSA 8), an 1887 N175 Gypsy Queen Buck Ewing (SGC 3.5), an 1895 N300 Mayo’s Anson, a PSA 5 1910 Tip Top Bread Honus Wagner, a PSA 4 1914 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson, a T206 Cy Young Portrait (PSA 8) and Tris Speaker (PSA 7), a 1907-09 Dietesche Cobb rookie postcard (SGC 3) and a breathtaking SGC 7.5 T206 Green Portrait Cobb that presents as nice or better than any of the handful of “8’s” we have seen.
Dr. Newman wasn’t just a fan of single cards, though. Virtually every important baseball set from every era of collecting will be in the auction, including a 1915 Cracker Jack set that includes the original album designed to store them. Football and basketball? He collected those, too, and the auction will include his PSA 9 1948 Bowman George Mikan rookie card—another hobby titan that’s expected to bring a big price—and his PSA 7 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski, the holy grail of vintage football (the rest of high high-grade set will also be part of the auction).
An open-minded sort, Newman didn’t brush off the modern era hobby either. His collection will feature PSA 10 copies of LeBron James’ 2003 Topps Chrome Refractor, Tom Brady’s 2000 Bowman Chrome rookie, a 1996 Topps Kobe Bryant Draft Redemption and a 1984-85 Star Company Bulls sealed set with Michael Jordan.
Aside from cards, the collection features a virtually complete run of World Series programs, including the 1903 publication—miraculously unrestored—from Game 3 in Boston and a rare 1908 program from one of the Cubs’ early appearances. Numerous other items will be more in the budget of the average collector.
The auction will consist of over 1,000 lots in all, with bidding expected to open June 21 and close July 10. More information will be available soon at MemoryLaneInc.com.