Summer is when fans flock to the Baseball Hall of Fame but this year, baseball history may be as close as the Memory Lane catalog. Over 1100 lots will be offered, including several Cooperstown-worthy pieces spanning virtually the entire history of organized professional baseball.
If there were a Baseball Card Hall of Fame, lot #1 in this sale would surely be inducted. Memory Lane is offering a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, graded PSA 8.5. The card is the only one of its kind and considered to be one of the 11 best in existence. All of the PSA 9 and 10-graded cards are currently in the hands of private collectors and not expected to be offered for sale anytime soon.
Minimum bid on the card is $50,000. It’s expected to sell for much more.
“Words don’t do this card justice,” said Memory Lane’s J.P. Cohen. “The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is the most sought after card of the modern era. They’re always in demand but some of the most advanced baseball card collectors in the world will be chasing this particular card because it’s the best that anyone will have a chance to own for the foreseeable future.”
It may be hard to believe but there are some unopened packs of Topps 1952 baseball that have survived to this day. There are none, however, that match the pack in the MLI auction. Graded PSA 8, it’s the best ’52 Topps pack in existence and advanced Set Registry collectors putting together a high grade ‘super set’ are expected to chase the pack aggressively.
“We don’t know what series this pack is from,” said Cohen. “You can’t tell because of the dark color of the wrapper, but that just kind of adds to the mystery. It could be a high number pack with a Mantle inside, a low number pack with a possible Andy Pafko (#1 in the set) or it could be from another series.”
Game-used memorabilia collectors will see several exceptionally rare items in this auction including game-worn jerseys from Hall of Fame members Carl Hubbell (1932) and Charlie Gehringer (1926-28), a game-used bat from the legendary Tris Speaker (1925-26), and the earliest-known Harmon Killebrew bat with provenance on the bat from ‘The Killer’ himself in the form of an autograph and notation.
There is a game-used 1968 Pete Rose Cincinnati Reds home jersey (autographed) and a game-worn George Brett home Kansas City Royals jersey dating from the year 1980, when he flirted with a .400 batting average until late in the season.
Babe Ruth collectors will have no shortage of items to view including a remarkable autographed baseball with provenance dating to World War II and the Babe’s unfailing generosity with everyday America. The ball was a special prize in a raffle at a local Grange hall and the family of the woman who won it over 65 years ago has had it ever since. Still in the original box, the ball carries a $5,000 minimum bid.
That’s not the only Ruth item in the auction, however. It’s not even the only autograph. A special postcard sized photo of Ruth and Yankees’ owner Jacob Ruppert carries the unique Babe signature “George H ‘Babe’ Ruth”, as well an an autograph of Ruppert. There is a Ruth autographed book, a high quality signed photo and another signed Ruth ball that’s part of a special lot described below.
Perhaps the most historic Ruth item in the auction, however, crosses the line into photographic history as well. Memory Lane is offering the photographer’s personal, first generation copy of perhaps the most famous Ruth photo of all-time: “The Babe Bows Out”.
The award-winning photo of Ruth’s farewell at Yankee Stadium just months before his death was shot by Nat Fein, who unexpectedly found himself at the ballpark on one of baseball’s saddest, yet most memorable days and took a photo that transcends baseball. The photo comes with a letter of provenance from the Fein family. The photo carries a $5,000 minimum bid.
Ruth baseball cards abound in this auction, including a 1915 Sporting News M101-5 rookie card and high-grade Goudey cards.
There is also a near set of T206 baseball cards, with all but five of the most rare cards absent from a mid-grade offering of the most popular pre-War card issue.
There is a run of late 1960s and 1970s unopened vending boxes, most of which have been professionally graded and encapsulated including 1968-69 Topps hockey, 1970 Topps football and both football and baseball boxes from the condition-sensitive 1971 issue.
Recently retired major leaguer and noted collector Dmitri Young has consigned one of the most unique accumulations of memorabilia to this auction; his own personal set of baseballs signed by members of the 500 home run club including the likes of Babe Ruth, Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx. The group of 25 balls includes professional authentication on each.
Young, by the way, will be at the Memory Lane booth at next month’s National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, meeting collectors and showing off a portion of his jaw-dropping rookie card collection. Young will be bringing his 50 best rookie cards—all graded gem mint 10—including Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks.
Memory Lane will show off many of the items in the auction and also taking consignments for its Winter auction. Anyone who consigns an item to that event will receive free VIP admission to the National for the show’s entire five-day run.
“This has really been an exciting summer,” said Cohen. “The consignments we’ve gotten have been amazing and I think we’re going to see some really strong prices in the Summer Auction. Just putting it together and seeing these great pieces has been a blast. I really think it’s our best auction in a couple of years. Then, to bring together all of the things we have going on at the National connects us with our customers and every year allows us to meet hundreds of new friends.”
Memory Lane’s Summer Treasures Auction begins Saturday, July 17 and closes Saturday, August 14. To receive a full-color catalog and register to participate in this and all future auctions, visit the company’s website (http://www.memorylaneinc.com) or call 1-877-606-5263.