Rarity and desirability was the name of the game on Feb. 21, 2015, at Heritage Auctions’ New York “Platinum Night” sports auction, as more than $9.8 million worth of the world’s most extraordinary sports memorabilia changed hands inside the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion.
“The atmosphere was decidedly festive and collectors were in a bidding mood,” said Chris Ivy, director of Heritage Sports Collectibles. “This February 2015 Platinum Night auction represented the largest and most significant offering of fresh material in recent hobby history. Those looking to burnish their collections, or add a cornerstone piece, certainly did so with the extraordinary range offered in New York.”
Far and away the night’s stars were both pairs of gloves worn by the combatants in the second battle between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali, a bout known to history as “The Phantom Punch Fight,” which featured a spirited bidding exchange that hushed the packed and rowdy crowd as the gloves punched their way to a $956,000 final price realized.
A trio of baseball treasures each drew applause from the crowd when their time came to cross the block: Babe Ruth’s 1921 personally documented home run bat, attributed by him to have hit his 58th and 59th home runs of the season realized $717,000, while Sandy Koufax’s game-worn 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers rookie jersey drew a final price of $573,600 and Mickey Mantle’s 1954 game-worn New York Yankees Jersey went to a new home for a $406,300 price.
More highlights included the personal collection of early Cleveland Plains Dealer photographer Frank W. Smith, which emerge from more than a century of storage and featured an authentic “Shoeless Joe” Jackson signed photograph. It sold for $179,250 in the auction, along with a signed Christy Matthewson photo ($92,613), a signed Napoleon Lajoie ($16,730) and the remaining 57 photographs from the collection ($13,145), for a total of $301,738.
“The anonymous collector who bought the Jackson photo also bought the other three lots in the collection,” noted Ivy. “They felt it important to keep the collection together, as it’s been for more than a century.”
Legendary Green Bay Packer’s Coach Vince Lombardi’s sweater from his coaching days at West Point, found at a Goodwill outlet in North Carolina and purchased for just 58 cents, sold for $43,020 in the auction. The black and gold-tone sweater had been donated by the widow of Bill Wannamaker, who coached at West Point with Lombardi during the 1940s and early 1950s.
Also of tremendous interest was the collection of Herb Brooks, the mastermind of the “Miracle on Ice,” who inspired his underdog Olympic hockey team to defeat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Lake Placid Games. The great coach is celebrated with the offering of a wide array of relics from a lifetime at the sport’s highest level. The top lot in the astounding collection was the coach’s 1980 “Miracle on Ice” Olympic Hockey ring, whichbrought $119,500.
The $119,500 price was matched by the battle-scarred brown and gold Boston Bruins Jersey worn by Hall of Fame defender Eddie Shore, one of the most important relics in National Hockey League history, recently unearthed in Canada after spending 80 years in one family.
Also not to be overlooked is the baseball glove that 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter’s 1996 ALCS Game One home run ball, robbing right fielder Tony Tarrasco of the catch and propelling the Yankees to a controversial and still disputed victory – and many would say it was the spark that lit the modern Yankees dynasty – that sold for $22,705.
Other highlights in the auction include, but are not limited:
– 1938 Mel Ott Game-Worn New York Giants Jersey: realized $334,600.
– 1966 Muhammad Ali Signed Letter to Draft Board Requesting Religious Exemption: realized $334,600.
– 1956 Roy Campanella Game-Worn Brooklyn Dodgers Uniform: realized $155,350.
– 1915 Boston Red Sox World Championship Pendant Presented to Everett Scott: Realized $98,588.
– 1915 Boston Red Sox with Rookie Babe Ruth Real Photo Postcard PSA EX+ 5.5: Realized $95,600.
– 1934 Goudey Baseball High Number Uncut Sheet with 1933 Napoleon Lajoie #106: realized $77,675.
– 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics Torch: realized $71,700.
– 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 : realized $65,725.
– 1963-64 Oscar Robertson Game-Worn Cincinnati Royals Jersey: realized $57,360.
– 1939-40 Josh Gibson Signed Puerto Rican Winter League Contract: realized $50,190.
For more information, visit www.ha.com.