Some items dated as far back as the 19th century. Others were in action just months ago. There was no question Memory Lane’s Spring Fever Classics Auction had a little bit of everything. When the hammer came down on the southern California based company’s latest catalog sale, the wide-ranging auction had brought in over $1.2 million.
The end result? Babe Ruth is still hot. Collectors love high-grade, vintage cards from virtually any era. Rare surviving unopened packs will draw a crowd. So will LeBron James game-used material.
The first lot in the auction was an eye-catching Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig autographed baseball from their barnstorming tour following the historic 1927 season. Dated Oct. 27, when the “Bustin’ Babes” and Larrupin’ Lous were in Santa Barbara, Calif., the ball was obtained by a local man who played on Gehrig’s team that day and it stayed in his possession until his death in 1991. When bidding stopped, the dual-signed ball had realized $25,462 including a 19 percent buyer’s premium.
Anything used by a member of the first Hall of Fame class in 1939 is of intense interest to advanced collectors and baseball historians. A 1922-25 Ty Cobb game model bat, soared to $21,043. Featuring subtle adjustments to the handle made by bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby and cleat marks, the bat carried a MEARS grade of 7.5.
Championship rings continue to find a growing audience of collectors and Yankee rings are especially sought after, even those of more recent vintage. Memory Lane offered the 2000 World Series ring originally presented to coach Carlos Rios in this sale. The winning bidder earned it at a price of $30,073.
A pair of lots as fresh as the day’s headlines featured NBA superstar LeBron James, currently making good on his promise to help the Heat make a Finals run. His controversial move from Cleveland in the offseason hasn’t hurt the value of his memorabilia. In fact, a game-used full uniform from one of his first games in Miami, drew some serious bidding before selling for $22,020. Five pairs of 2008 Eastern Conference Finals-worn James Nike shoes, all signed and authenticated by Upper Deck, sold for $14,028.
Several items from a collection of Michael Jordan memorabilia were sold including a pair of game-worn shoes that brought $4,066 and a basketball MJ autographed with his full name (“Michael Jeffrey Jordan”) sold for $2,613.
Jordan’s fellow Upper Deck spokesman, Tiger Woods was represented with a tournament-worn shirt. The autographed polo brought a price of $4,210.
Vintage cards are Memory Lane’s hallmark, though, and some rare and high-grade examples were on the block, highlighted by the sale of a 1934 Goudey No. 37 Lou Gehrig graded PSA 6.5 that brought an impressive $10,652 and a 1957 Topps Frank Robinson, PSA 9, that drew a bidding war until the auction closed at $9,339. A 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams rookie card, graded PSA 8, went for $7,470.
Other vintage cards sold included:
- Complete set of 1950 Callahan $8,205
- 1966 East Hills Roberto Clemente (regional issue) PSA 10 $5,603
- 1941 Play Ball No. 52 Higbe PSA 8.5 $5,140
- 1952 Topps Preacher Roe PSA 8.5 $4,673
- 1957-58 Topps Bill Sharman PSA 9 $4,631
- 1990 Topps USA 1 George Bush Beckett 8.5 $4,517
- 1963 Topps #517 Woodeshick PSA 10 $3,861
- 1977 Topps Andre Dawson rookie PSA 10 $2,495
- 1962 Topps Mars Attacks No. 2 PSA 9 $5,654
A one-cent 1954 Topps pack that shows a Jackie Robinson card peering through the wrapper (graded PSA 9 mint) vaulted to $3,392.