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Jumping Into the Collectibles Abyss

Jumping Into the Collectibles Abyss

by Paul Semendinger

October 30, 2021


My friend, Dr. Rock Positanto, sent me a great photo the other day of Lou Gehrig long before he was legendary. It was a photo of him as a high school player, in 1920, after his team won the National Championships. This was an amazing find. I had to learn more.

The photo originally came from Heritage Auctions.

Now, I don’t buy much baseball memorabilia, that hobby had (long ago) priced itself out of the ranges I was willing to spend for any collectable. Still, like a person in a museum, or a kid in a candy shop, I was quickly led into the abyss…a rabbit hole as some call it, seeing other items and clicking away to see all these wonderful original and rare baseball items.

I soon found this letter from promoter Christy Walsh written on the letterhead from a Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig barnstorming trip. Lelands was the auction house for this item. I saw that it sold for $769.39. That’s out of my price range, but I would have guessed it would have sold for a lot more. I’d love to have that item framed on the wall of my home office.

I don’t know what I’d do with all of these, but a collection of old baseball bats seems like it would also be cool to own. “Oh, let me show you my Babe Ruth model bat,” I might say to a guest visiting my home. I can only imagine the reaction, “You have a Babe Ruth bat?” “Well, it wasn’t actually the Babe’s, but it does have his name on it. I keep it next to my Ty Cobb bat…” The whole lot is still under $300. That seems reasonable. I could do that.

What I can’t do is drop around $6,500 for Thurman Munson’s autograph. eBay can be fun, but that’s a lot of money. I wish I had Thurman’s signature, but that is priced well out of my price range.

I had two posters in my room as a young fan in 1977 and 1978, Thurman and Sparky Lyle. I wondered if my old Sparky Lyle poster could be found on eBay. I couldn’t find it there, but I did find a Sparky Lyle autograph that, at least when I saw it was just 99 cents. Now that seems reasonable and affordable!!!

Still, I wondered about that poster…

I couldn’t find Sparky Lyle, but I did find that an old Burger King Yankees poster I had was worth between $25.00 to $40.00. I wonder how much mine would be worth with thumbtack holes, torn corners, and wrinkles. I think I still have it rolled up with a rubber band up in the attic.

This was getting me nowhere (but that was fun, even though I had a ton of work to do) so I knew I had to wrap this up quickly. I wondered about “game used” items and I immediately thought of my favorite player of them all, Graig Nettles. has a signed Graig Nettles bat for sale for $2,754.99. (I love ya, Graig, but not for that price.)

And, as much as I loved Nettles as a hitter, if I was to buy a game-used Nettles item, I’d want his glove, but I couldn’t find one. Leyland’s has a game used Nettles jersey from 1974 for $1.932.00, but I don’t have any desire to have someone else’s old clothes, even if that someone else was a Yankee, and my favorite one at that. (I also think, that for that price, why not make it a few dollars more and make it $1,974 since that’s the year of the jersey. At that point, what difference does a few dollars make?

I ended my quest thinking about Strat-o-Matic, my favorite baseball board game. That led me to finding a great lot of old baseball games at a Robert Edwards Auction. That set of games sold for under $500. It seems like a good deal, I guess.

I still think Strat-o-Matic would be more fun to play.


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