THE LEGEND OF COBB
If you can’t have a T206 Honus Wagner, the Ty Cobb from that legendary tobacco card series isn’t a bad alternative. And within the T206 series (which was issued from 1909 through 1911 in loose tobacco packs and cigarette packs through 16 different American Tobacco Co. brands), there are four different Cobbs. One of them, the “bat off shoulder” portrait pose, sold on eBay in November for $25,000, narrowly missing our Top 10 chart. It has a Sweet Caporal ad on the reverse and had been graded a lofty 8/NM-MT by PSA.
The three years that Cobb’s T206 cards were in their original run found “The Georgia Peach” terrorizing American League pitchers. As a pup of 22 years old in 1909, he batted a league-leading .377 with 107 RBI and 76 steals (how would that look on your fantasy team?). In 1910, he upped his average to .383 with 65 more steals. And in 1911, he set what would be a personal high with a .420 batting average, piling up 248 hits in 591 at-bats with 83 steals. Cobb would play 17 more seasons and finish with a career average of .366, still a record.
The 1950s-era Brooklyn Dodgers rank among baseball history’s most romanticized teams: an All-Star-laden crew that often played in the shadow of the crosstown rival New York Yankees. But in 1955, the “Boys of Summer” won the National League by a large margin (13 games), thanks to the big bats of Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella, who each drove in at least 100 runs, and a pitching staff led by 20-game winner Don Newcombe. The Dodgers went on to topple the Yankees in seven games in a World Series for the ages.
Not surprisingly, vintage and authenticated autographs from the ’55 Dodgers are highly sought by fans, and the Holy Grail just might be a team-signed baseball. In November, a ball autographed by 20 of the 22 players who appeared in the World Series, plus manager Walter Alston, sold on eBay for $23,499. The only missing player sigs were those of Don Zimmer and George Shuba. Otherwise, the ball is a trove of Hall of Fame stars and beyond, from the aforementioned players to Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese to Carl Furillo and Jim Gilliam, with Alston inking the sweet spot.
The ball was new to the hobby at the time of its sale, and it came with nice provenance. An Official Spalding National League Warren Giles ball, it has been in the family of umpire Bill Summers, who actually worked that 1955 World Series. The family selling the ball included a provenance letter that notes it may have been used as a game ball in the series.
We reported on the growing demand for Ezekiel Elliott memorabilia just before the NFL season started. Back then the demand was anticipatory and speculative. Now it’s based on what we’re seeing the Cowboys’ latest running back sensation do on the gridiron. Elliott had already surpassed 1,000 yards with seven regular-season games to go.
In mid-November, an ungraded 1-of-1 Panini Elite Turn of the Century autographed card of Elliott fetched $1,199, while a graded example (BGS 10) of the same card brought $1,100. Drawing $1,000 was a 2016 Leaf Ultimate Draft signed Elliott card (ungraded). And an Elliott 2016 Panini Origins autographed gold card sold for $700.
A better bargain for budget-conscious collectors might be an Elliott-signed Cowboys jersey. Multiple examples from a signing session sold for prices between $175 and $275. Buying an Ohio State college jersey (No. 15) signed by Elliott will set you back a little more; one nice-looking framed example went for $360.
RAPTOR ON THE RISE
Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan has started the 2016-17 NBA campaign playing like a madman, averaging 33 points per game over the first three weeks. It’s a small sampling, and he won’t challenge the single-season scoring average record (no one will—Wilt Chamberlain’s 50.4 points-per-game average in 1961-62 is one of those virtually unbreakable sports records). But DeRozan, after an off-season of “intense dedication” to his game, is a player to watch.
Collectors are starting to do just that. Consider these sales from the past couple of weeks:
• $1,869: 2009-10 Panini National Treasures Century Gold signed jersey-patch card graded BGS 9.5, with a 10 for the sig. Two others sold for $1,175 and $1,000 (both bearing a BGS 9.5 card grade).
• $1,675: 2015-16 Flawless Platinum signed card featuring an All-Star logo patch (BGS 9.5).
• $393: 2009-10 Panini National Treasures NBA Logoman auto patch card graded BGS 9.
Last time out, we gave a nod to the World Champion Chicago Cubs (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?). But let’s also tip our caps to the tough Cleveland Indians, who jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the Fall Classic before the Cubs turned things around. The Indians’ biggest star, Francisco Lindor, played well in the series, batting .296, but was even better during the long regular season, stealing 19 bases, swatting 15 homers and scoring 99 runs to go with his .301 average.
The hot Lindor treasure is his 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft autographed card. Different colored Refractor versions of the card have been drawing different prices: an Orange fetched $3,499; a Purple sold for $1,925; and a Gold reeled in $898. All three had grades of BGS 9.5.
Lindor-signed jerseys are selling for $400 to $600, while autographed baseballs can be had for $75 to $150.