American Memorabilia taps Willie and Mickey

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Nine months after catching the hobby’s attention with a stunning group of Old Judge proof cards that sold for nearly $50,000 collectively, American Memorabilia has lined up four more Goodwin & Co. proofs to headline the company’s massive June 23 auction.

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The batting order this time reads: 1. Gypsy Queen proof of Boyce of Washington (appears on this week’s cover of SCD); 2. Old Judge proof of John Doran (Ball Overhead); 3. Goodwin Tobacco Co. proof of Bobby Mathews; and 4. Old Judge proof of Patrick O’Connell. Each of the four rarities opens at $900.

And while the turn-of-the-century crowd grabs the top of the marquee, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron, Lou Gehrig and Willie Mays aren’t exactly chopped liver either in this auction of more than 1,100 lots.

The Ruth items include a signed and graded 8-by-10 photo ($2,000 minimum), a signed and inscribed copy of The Babe Ruth Story, a PSA-graded single-signed Ruth Harridge ball ($2,000), a Ruth and Gehrig signed Texas League ball ($2,000) and a Ruth Quaker Oats advertising display piece ($900).

Aaron’s top item in the sale is a game-used and signed 1968 flannel, complete with pants, that bears a $5,000 opening. The Mantle presence is even more imposing, with literally dozens of items featured, including many from Mantle’s longtime agent and companion Greer Johnson. Prominent among that group is a handwritten speech on Greer Johnson letterhead from the late 1980s, a poster from the Mickey Mantle Restaurant and Sports Bar across from Central Park in New York City that included Mantle’s occasional penchant for adding the odd inscribed obscenity here and there, and a signed and notated blue presentation bat (from Johnson, $2,000).

All of that hints at the Mantle role in the sale, but hardly exhausts the curriculum, which also included a number of single-signed and multi-signed balls (several with inscriptions), a signed commemorative Yankees jersey, and 500 Home Run Club balls, to name a few.

Mays weighs in with a game-used and team-signed bat from 1967 ($2,500) and a game-used and signed glove from the late 1960s ($5,000); there’s a 1970 Roberto Clemente game-used cap ($2,000) and game-used bats from Ernie Banks (1955-60) and Willie McCovey (1971-79).
Among the hundreds of signed balls featured in the sale, a single-signed Rogers Hornsby ball manages to stand out ($900), as does a multi-signed ball with Grover Cleveland Alexander, Frankie Frisch and several others ($900).

A Paul Hornung game-used suspension helmet from 1964-66 opens at all of $5,000; there’s also a 1966 Super Bowl I Packers-signed football with a standout Lombardi signature ($900), a game-worn Earl Campbell helmet ($2,000), plus game-worn jerseys from the likes of Michael Jordan (1997 All-Star Game, $1,500), Earl “The Pearl” Monroe ($900) and even a full Maryland uniform from Len Bias’ final game ($1,500).

As is customary in American Memorabilia auctions, there are literally hundreds of signed balls, jerseys, caps and other equipment pieces, and dozens of lots of quality entertainment and political material, including signed presidential photos, record albums and even a cannon from the feature film “The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which, of course, is not related to the aforementioned Mr. Monroe in the previous graph.

The complete 84-page American Memorabilia auction catalog is inserted as a supplement to this issue (June 24) of Sports Collectors Digest; American Memorabilia’s auction catalog (another 1,037 lots) for the company’s July 7 auction will be inserted with the July 8 issue of SCD.

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