He was a longtime supporter of the sports collecting community and now everyone knows Joe Garagiola owned the hobby’s most famous baseball card. A T206 Honus Wagner owned by the late catcher and Today Show co-host is the headliner in Heritage Auctions’ newly launched February Platinum Night Auction.
Many years ago, Garagiola traded a package of memorabilia, including his 1954 New York Giants uniform– the last he ever wore as a big league player– for the Wagner card. Graded Authentic by SGC, the card is expected to sell for over $1 million. As of Sunday afternoon, bidding had already surpassed $600,000 including the buyer’s premium that will be tacked on to each winning bid in the auction.
Wagner’s card isn’t the only Holy Grail cardboard offered in this event: Here, too, are seven 1952 Topps Mickey Mantles – among them one graded PSA NM-MT 8 and another autographed. The auction also includes a 1951 Bowman Mantle rookie graded PSA 8, alongside the finest known 1949 Bowman Duke Snider rookie card, the only one ever graded PSA 10.
The auction will include a copy of what’s become perhaps the most sought after card in the hobby: a PSA 10 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card. Two of them sold for over $700,000 each in another auction over the weekend.
Other high-end trading cards on the block include a 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax deemed SGC 9, a 1966 Topps Bobby Orr graded BVG 10 and a 1917 Collins-McCarthy Babe Ruth card graded 8 – the best-known example, by a long shot, of a card little seen in the wild.
From nearly a century later comes the 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Gold Giannis Antetokounmpo Rookie Patch Auto, one of only 25 made, graded BGS 8 Auto 10.
Another Wagner keepsake – a game-used bat from the 1912 season and the only photo-matched Wagner bat in existence—is also on the block.
Ruth and Gehrig are linked throughout this sale, whether by a baseball both men signed in 1934 that was gifted to a priest at Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore, where Ruth learned the game; or the finest known photograph of Ruth and Gehrig signed by both.
The man who broke Ruth’s home-run record, the late Hank Aaron, is well represented, too, most notably by his 1954 Topps rookie card graded PSA 9. From that rookie season comes another piece of memorabilia: a Milwaukee Braves cap Aaron wore during that first of his 23 seasons, which originated with a Milwaukee dry cleaning business once tasked with getting the dirt out of ballplayers’ uniforms. And from nearly a decade later comes a plaque the Braves awarded Aaron upon the occasion of his 300th home run.
Just weeks after Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card became the first hockey cardboard to shatter the million-dollar mark, Heritage brings to market a photo-matched sweater from the 1979-80 season during which not-yet-The Great One made his debut as an Edmonton Oiler.
Offered for the first time are the star-spangled, game-worn shoes Kobe Bryant once gifted to a high-schooler named LeBron James.
More than three dozen items from former NFL standout Jake Scott including his two Super Bowl rings earned with the Miami Dolphins, are also expected to attract bidders’ attention.
Other highlights include a ticket stub from Jackie Robinson’s debut, Maurice Lucas’ game-worn Spirits of St. Louis rookie uniform from the ABA’s 1974-75 season and the gloves Muhammad Ali wore in 1980 while training for his bout with Larry Holmes – gloves inscribed to none other than Rocky Balboa himself, Sylvester Stallone.
“Platinum Night continually presents the finest material the hobby has to offer, and this edition is no different,” stated Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “This event covers all the bases, from high-grade rookie cards to game-used material to championship hardware and everything in between.”
The auction is divided into two sessions, each of which will go into extended bidding at 10 p.m. CT. To participate, bidders must place their initial bids before extended bidding begins.