Considering that Clean Sweep Auctions brings roughly 10,000 items to auction every year, and has hosted more than 130 auctions over the years, it's worth noting when company president Steve Verkman offers an item that is unlike anything he's ever seen before.
But at least two such rarities are among the more than 1,000 lots being offered in Clean Sweep's next sale, which closes Jan. 31. One of which is an item signed by the man who, for many years, held the record with 61 home runs in a single season. Most know him as Roger Maris, but few know that he began his professional baseball career as Roger Maras, then changed the spelling of his name sometime in the mid-1950s.
Clean Sweep is offering an autograph album page signed by Maras and about two dozen other members of the 1953 Fargo-Moorehead Twins minor-league team. It carries a $1,500 minimum bid.
"It's the first time we've ever seen or handled a Maras-signed item," said Verkman. "I've heard there may be only 10 or so items in existence featuring his signature with the 'Maras' spelling."
Another item that falls into that one-of-a-kind category is a game-used, full college football uniform from a player for Lafayette College from 1908. "It's a real relic, because it's very rare to find uniforms from that time frame," Verkman said. "It's a one-piece uniform with the original Spalding tag."
Like many of Clean Sweep's major auctions, this one is dominated by autographed items. The Jan. 31 sale is headlined by a number of Mickey Mantle-signed items, including a variety of photos. "We have items ranging from 8-by-10 photos to very large images," Verkman said. "We have some great poses of Mantle with Roger Maris, with Casey Stengel, with Billy Martin and with Joe DiMaggio. We also have a photo of Mantle with all four of his sons, and the photo is signed by everyone in the picture. Sadly, with Mantle and two of the sons now deceased, this is also a very rare item."
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb are among the long list of Hall of Famers who have signed items available in this auction. Offerings range from single-signed baseballs to letters, contracts and even autographed trading cards. "There was a time when signatures on cards were thought to deface the item," said Verkman. "Now, there's a lot of interest in signed cards. We have a 1961 Topps card signed by Maris in beautiful ballpoint ink, for instance."
Clean Sweep is also offering more from the giant collection of autographed baseballs it began selling last year. More than 1,000 signed balls from that collection are part of this sale, including team baseballs dating back as far as the 1920s, and single-signed balls from baseball legends such as Dizzy Dean and Roberto Clemente to such baseball figures as William Shea, who helped bring the Mets to New York and is the namesake of the team's current stadium.
There's also a selection of graded cards available, including such rarities as 1887 Buchner Gold Coin cards, three 1914 Victory cards, a T-213 Ty Cobb Coupon Cigarettes card and some PSA-graded unopened material including a very rare 1964 Topps Standup pack and graded cello packs of baseball and football cards from 1975 through the early 1980s, most of which feature star cards on the top.
To view an online catalog and place bids, visit www.csuactions.com. More items from Clean Sweep's upcoming sale are pictured on the ads found on Pages 31-34 of this issue of SCD.