An early example of the most prestigious and recognizable trophy in American sports – the 1937 Heisman Memorial Trophy presented to Yale University halfback Clint Frank – is expected to sell for more than $400,000 when it reappears 81 years after its Touchdown Club debut in Heritage Auctions’ Sports Memorabilia Auction Oct. 18-19. Frank’s recognition as the outstanding college football player of 1937 marked the first of just three times that a college claimed back-to-back Heismans, and the second of just three earned by an Ivy Leaguer.
“It’s not just the most coveted award in college football,” said Chris Ivy, director of Sports Auctions at Heritage, “but also the Holy Grail of football collectibles. Certainly it’s tied for the most important piece of Yale football memorabilia that exists.”
In the spirit of the times, Frank was a two-way player, an elusive ball-carrier on offense and a punishing safety on defense despite a host of injuries and severe near-sightedness. The fledgling National Football League drafted Frank upon his graduation, but he opted for a highly successful career in advertising, which would allow him to dedicate his retirement to a wide array of philanthropic endeavors.
Frank’s family has consigned the trophy to auction.
The fall auction event also features a one-of-a-kind jersey worn by Joe DiMaggio at Ebbets Field in Game 5 of the 1947 World Series, which is also estimated to sell for $400,000.
“For football and baseball collectors respectively, it doesn’t get much bigger than this,” Ivy said. “Each of these pieces may very well set a new world record.”
Elite football material emerges as a strong theme throughout the online auction event, with a wide array of battle-scarred game worn jerseys from such Canton legends as Johnny Unitas (est. $60,000-up), Dick Butkus (est. $40,000-up), Fred Biletnikoff (est. $15,000-up), Joe Namath (est. $20,000-up) and Eric Dickerson (est. $10,000-up), many matched to period photography.
But there is no shortage of Cooperstown counterparts either, as flannel gamers from Don Drysdale (est. $40,000-up), Pete Rose (est. $30,000-up), Ron Santo (ext. $30,000-up), Billy Williams (est. $20,000-up) and Willie McCovey (est. $20,000-up) are expected to command solid five-figure prices.
Autograph collectors will likewise find plenty of intrigue, including Roberto Clemente’s signed contract from the Pittsburgh Pirates 1960 World Championship season (est. $20,000-up), a rare handwritten letter from Christy Mathewson (est. $15,000-up), and a one-of-a-kind 1934 Exhibit card bearing the signatures of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey and Lefty Gomez (est. $50,000-up).
Other highlights include:
• 1995 Michael Jordan Silver Air Jordan I sneaker created for his 32nd birthday (est. $50,000-up)
• 2005 Afleet Alex Belmont Stakes winner’s trophy presented to jockey Jeremy Rose (est. $40,000-up)
• Scottie Pippen game worn and signed Chicago Bulls uniform – photo matched to 12 games and career high points game in 1996-97 (est. $30,000-up)
• Circa 1930 New York Yankees partial team signed baseball (est. $20,000-up)
• 1910 Philadelphia Athletics World Series Championship Trophy presented to catcher Pat Donahue (est. $20,000-up)
• 1941 Bobby Jones match worn Masters Tournament player badge (est. $20,000-up)
• 1906 Chicago Champions Gold Medallion presented to Joe Tinker (est. $15,000-up)
• 1920 New York Yankees team signed baseball from Muddy Ruel’s house, the only known example to exist (est. $20,000-up)
This auction is open for bidding and will close in extended bidding format at 10 p.m. Central time Oct. 18 at HA.com/Sports.