For a generation of Yankee fans, Bill Mazeroski’s series winning home run in the final game of the 1960 World Series remains a dagger plunged into their heart. As Jay Baker – former CEO of Kohl’s and chairman of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation – stated the night before the auction, “it has taken me 53 years to get over that moment – but I’m over it.” Items from that iconic moment were the highlights of the 10th annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Live Auction. The Mazeroski collection generated $1,712,422 according to Hunt Auctions.
The night before the auction, an emotional Mazeroski was feted by Louisville Slugger with video highlights of his career and a special gift – a pair of PowerBilt Golf Clubs, echoing the reward he received from then more than a half-century ago when he reached the major leagues. He was also shown his original contract with Louisville Slugger, from which the signature that would emblazon his bat’s nameplates would be taken, and which fellow Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. would point out incorrectly – and humorously – recorded his weight as 0 lbs.
During his speech, Mezeroski was laudatory of David Hunt, CEO of Hunt Auctions, for his treatment he and his family received. He went on to explain that in the 53 years he had it, he only looked at his World Series jersey when it was time to change the moth balls. Regarding the bat and cleats, ‘Maz’ shared that he originally planned to keep using them – and that likely they would have been destroyed due to overuse – had not a determined merchant pressured into having them bronzed.
Mazeroski – like many in his generation – was initially surprised to learn the items were as valuable as they were. Certainly when he kept them he never expected them to combine to sell for in excess of $1 million – especially when according to The Sporting News in 1968 his yearly salary was only $40-50,000.
“I was completely overwhelmed and humbled by the auction of my sports memorabilia collection that I witnessed today,” he said Saturday. ” I would like to thank all the auction winners for their support and hope they receive enjoyment from the items they have acquired. I had no idea the tremendous value of these treasures I have held on to all these years.”
When I spoke to Mazeroski about the collecting industry, he confided that his Ohio hometown was devoid of any shops where he could pick up packs of baseball cards. He did however note that he grew up a Cleveland Indians fan and years of Yankee domination of his team gave him added incentive in the ’60 series.
The two strongest items in the auction were of course the bat and jersey from the immortal home run. The jersey sold for $632,500, while the bat sold for $322,000 including the 15% buyer’s premium. Both items sold live in the floor to Michael Heffner, President of Lelands Auctions. The bronzed cleats sold for $97,750 to an anonymous phone bidder.
Other noteworthy items from the Mazeroski Collection included an away jersey attributed to the 1960 World Series, which David Hunt explained was too difficult to photo match, but did publicly state he believed it to be the jersey. It sold to a phone bidder for $57,500. Also selling via the phone bank – staffed by an army of Hunt employees – was Maz’ World Series MVP award, which sold for $41,400. Two items that each sold for $24,150 were Maz’ 1969 home uniform and the ball that recorded the final out at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field in 1970. $14,950 was the price for Mazeroski’s fielding glove, which he and Cal Ripken admired at a reception the night before the auction. One accessible treasure was a c. 1960s Pirates hat, which fetched $4,485. Finally, six of Mazeroski’s Gold Gloves – the family elected to retain two – sold individually for a combined total of $193,780.
“We could not be more pleased with the incredible pricing achieved for the historic items from Bill Mazeroski’s collection,” said Hunt. “Bill’s legacy as one of the greatest players in Pittsburgh Pirates history coupled with the iconic status of his legendary 1960 World Series home run served as an appropriate foundation for the incredible prices realized at the auction.”
A portion of the proceeds from the Mazeroski items in the auction will be donated to Pirates Charities.
The auction appropriately included a selection of Hall of Fame bats manufactured over the past century by Louisville Slugger. A Roberto Clemente scarce “Momen” bat sold on the floor – also to Heffner – for $86,250. A bat used by Ty Cobb that was presented to Hall of Famer Joe Sewell in 1925 sold for $74,750. A bat belonging to Red Sox Hall of Famer featuring impeccable side writing and vault markings went for $18,400. A bat dating to Honus Wagner’s period as a coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates brought $17,250. Max Carey, another Hall of Fame Pirate, also had a bat in the auction which sold for $3,737.50.
Championship items of note included a 1980 Philadelphia Phillies World Series ring awarded to bench coach Bobby Wine, which sold for $19,550, while his replica World Series trophy brought $8,050. A pocket watch attributed to Al Demaree commemorating the 1915 Philadelphia Phillies National League championship brought $17,250. A pendant presented to George Mogridge for winning a game in 1924 World Series for the Washington Senators sold for $9,200.
Several of the other items I found interesting included a 1904 American League Carl Horner imperial-sized display which sold for $4,140. A panoramic display of the 1921 World Series featuring the Giants and Yankees – including Babe Ruth – sold for $4,600.
Several items from the Joe Sewell collection – including a bat, equipment, and his Hall of Fame plaque – were withdrawn from the auction and instead donated to the University of Alabama, which has pledged to dedicate a museum to Sewell at their new baseball stadium. However, two Sewell bats did remain in the auction and sold for $10,465.
The auction itself was well-attended and bidding on the phones was heavy. Among those in attendance were Kansas City-based collection Jeff Drum, who was at his sixth consecutive Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Auction – despite the eight hour drive. “It’s an annual thing for us,” Drum explained. “I used to live in Louisville, and I still have friends here, but its about the auction. Hunt is based near Philadelphia and they tend to get a lot of A’s material, which is what I collect.”
What makes Drum’s experience somewhat unique is the fact that his young son was along for the journey – in fact, it was his son’s fourth consecutive appearance at the auction. Drum shared that his son has a deep appreciation for the event and the commute does not bother him.
Hunt Auctions and the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory put on an excellent two day event that everyone in attendance – including Bill Mazeroski – seemed pleased with.