So you’re a "serious collector", huh? Come on. Lighten up. Take a trip down a somewhat warped memory lane as we look back at some of the more unusual items to hit the hobby this year.
Combing through an archive of 1,000 sports card and memorabilia related stories posted to the site during the year, we’ve selected ten off-the-wall winners of weirdness. All of the items were available for sale at some point.
The list, in no particular order, includes:
Tiger Stadium urinal: The defunct ballpark was gutted and its remaining contents sold by a St. Louis auction company. Signs, doors and other fairly banal pieces were offered, along with the home team’s own urinal, which brought $900.
We need some *#%?& decorum around here! From the estate of a baseball historian came an 1898 document sent to big league teams asking for an end to vulgar language on the field. The ironic document spelled out quite vividly which swear words or phrases had been used against umpires, dispelling the notion that 19th century athletes were more gentlemanly. Scheduled for auction this coming spring.
Take a bite out of Michael Vick: Following his arrest on dog fighting charges, a female collector and artist decided to let her pup nibble on 22 Vick trading cards and then offered the less-than-mint condition lot on eBay. Much publicity and myriad copycat auctions ensued, but the original lot sold for $7400.
George Bush gets his own baseball card…sort of: Collectors did a double take when opening the first Topps packs of 2007. A joker in the art department put a smiling, waving President Bush into the stands on Derek Jeter’s card. Waiting to bat next was the late great Mickey Mantle.
Leon Washington’s R-rated football card greeting: Jets’running back Leon Washington was photographed for his 2006-07 Bowman card flashing what looked like a “double bird” salute. Arms crossed and middle fingers extended, it appeared as if he was obscenely greeting America’s youth. Surprsied by the uproar, Washington insisted he was simply forming the letter “E” for his hometown of East Jacksonville, FL.
The $673 can of game-used bug spray: A swarm of insects descended on Yankees’pitcher Joba Chamberlain in Game 2 of the American League playoffs. The bugs rattled the rookie and the Cleveland Indians not only won the game, they took the series. The can of bug spray put into action that night sold in an MLB auction for $673.
Matt Holliday’s game-chewed sunflower seeds: A Colorado woman was among fans allowed on the field to watch a post-game fireworks show at Coors Field. Sitting in left field, she picked up a small quantity of sunflower seed shells spit out by popular Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday and put them on eBay where they sold for $25.89.
1975 Pete Rose game-chewed gum: Frustrated during a mid-career game, Rose removed the wad of gum from his mouth and fired it toward the dugout. It landed on the wall below the stands instead where a fan grabbed it, inexplicably hung onto it for 32 years and then tried to sell it on eBay.
The Father of Our Baseball Cards: Autographed cards are now commonly inserted into packs to help promote sales, but Topps went a step further with its Allen & Ginter sports and historical issue, inserting a few strands of George Washington’s hair into a card featuring the 1st President. One dealer who found one of the cards in a pack tried to sell it on eBay, which kept rejecting the listing, claiming it was historical memorabilia, not baseball.
Yankee gloves found…where? A truck-driving former minor leaguer stopped by a used sporting goods chain store in California looking for socks when he spotted four actual game model gloves made for Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Steve Karsay. The store didn’t know they were the real deal and how they got there was a mystery. Mark Webb quickly turned a $500 investment into $10,000 after putting them up for auction.