By Larry Canale
For those of you who collect autographed checks, we’ve got a great one for you. An eBay seller offered a Sept. 15, 1942 personal check inked by Babe Ruth to his second wife, Claire Ruth, in late May, and it sold for a hefty $25,000. And why not? It’s in Gem-Mint condition, having been graded 10 by PSA, with the two Babe signatures on the check authenticated by PSA/DNA.
The amount of the check, as Ruth wrote it, was $50, and it was drawn from the Chemical Bank & Trust Co. in New York. The Babe signed his name as “GH Ruth” on the front and also on the back, where Claire Ruth signed as well.
The Bambino’s first wife, Helen, died tragically in a house fire in 1929. As BabeRuthCentral.com tells us, “In April of the same year, Babe married Claire a day before opening day at Yankee Stadium. After their marriage, Claire quickly introduced some much-needed discipline to Babe’s life. She became his personal manager, managing everything from Babe’s outrageous spending sprees to his exercise and eating habits.”
If the collectibles hobby had a “Comeback Athlete of the Year” award, Tiger Woods would certainly belong in the conversation. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was the toast of the PGA tour, a young star who could do no wrong on the links and whose personal life seemed squeaky clean. But injuries (four knee surgeries) affected his play, and several incidents (running into a fire hydrant with his car while fleeing his wife during a domestic dispute, a messy follow-up divorce and a DUI arrest) clouded his reputation.
Now, the 42-year-old is at his healthiest place in years, and he’s starting to play well at the game he loves. Woods has had three Top 10 finishes in tournaments this year and is bound to put it all together for another tourney win or two before the PGA season is over.
Collectors are noticing. A bidding war broke out over a Woods tournament-worn and autographed golf shirt, with 74 bids driving the price to $8,500 in May. In the same month, 36 bids pushed a 2001 Upper Deck Authentic Gold Woods autographed rookie card (graded BGS 9.5) to $5,655. And, in April, a 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids card graded PSA 10 (even with those perforated edges) brought $4,261 on 49 bids.
Sellers are putting inventory out there, too: There are currently 25,000 listings that come up when you search “Tiger Woods” at eBay. It’ll only grow when he pulls off that next tournament win.
A lot of 32 Salada tea football coins from 1962 sold on eBay for $22,500 in early June. Each of the coins had been graded PSA 10. They’re part of a set of 154 metal coins issued in boxes of Salada Tea and Junket Brand pudding mix back in the day.
Each Salada coin offered a color image of one of the era’s football stars—among them Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown—on the front. On the back was a smattering of player profile data (height, weight, age, college, position) along with the coin’s number and Salada’s and Junket’s logos.
The lot noted here included a healthy sampling of stars, among them Paul Hornung of Green Bay; Bobby Mitchell of the Washington Redskins; Dick “Night Train” Lane of the Detroit Lions; and Sonny Jurgensen and Chuck Bednarik of the Philadelphia Eagles. The bulk of the lot was made up of commons—all of them important cogs in a tough-to-complete set. Among the commons that sold were behemoth defensive end Doug Atkins, running back Johnny Morris and QBs Zeke Bratkowski and Milt Plum.
“King Kevin” would be Kevin Durant, the basketball freak who led the Golden State Warriors to another title. We mean no disrespect to King James—the Cavs’ LeBron James, whose “hobby hero” status remains untarnished, really, even after Cleveland fell to Golden State in a decisive sweep during the NBA Finals. But Durant is on fire, as evidenced by these lofty prices on eBay:
• $27,599 on 87 bids for a 2007-08 Upper Deck Exquisite signed patch card graded BGS 9.
• $17,455 on 45 bids for a 2007-08 Topps Chrome White Refractor graded PSA 10, one of only 99 produced.
• $10,399 on 33 bids for another 2007-08 Topps Chrome White Refractor, this one graded BGS 9.5.
• $9,651 on 34 bids for yet another White Refractor from Topps’ 2007-08 Chrome set.
• $7,877 on 18 bids for an Orange Refractor Chrome card from 2007-08, this one graded at PSA 10.
• $6,202 on 47 bids for a 2007-08 Upper Deck Authentic autographed card graded BGS 10.
• $5,500 in a Buy It Now sale for a one-of-one Panini National Treasures card inked not only with Durant’s autograph but with this personalized notation: “2017 NBA Finals MVP.”
Two center-fielders just missed our Top 10 list this time out. On the outside looking in: a beautiful 1952 Topps Willie Mays card that sold for $18,600. This classic slice of baseball royalty, featuring a color photo of a baby-faced Mays looking almost nervous, had been graded PSA 7.5. Young Willie, of course, was coming off his 1951 rookie campaign, during which he hit .274 with 20 homers, 68 RBI and seven steals.
The other center-fielder just outside our Top 10 chart was Mike Trout, who also held down the No. 1 slot. In this case, it was a 2009 Bowman Chrome X-Fractor that sold for $18,099. The card had been graded BGS 9.5—a hair off the PSA 10 Blue Refractor that brought $50,000.