Hunt Auction trumpets Shoeless Joe, Henry and Bowie

Hunt Auctions will be selling the personal memorabilia collection of 2008 Hall of Fame inductee and former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn at its annual auction of Important Sports Memorabilia and Cards on March 7-8 at the Inn at Chester Springs in Exton, Pa.

Kuhn held the senior executive title for MLB from 1969-84. Expected to sell for $150,000-$200,000, the collection of more than 140 items is reflective of Kuhn’s career and the unique challenges he faced during his tenure. Kuhn died in March 2007 and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in December of last year. The auction will mark the first occasion the personal collection of an MLB Commissioner will be sold at public auction.

“With this historic offering of selected items from the collection of Bowie Kuhn, we are honored to be representing the prestigious name of the former commissioner of baseball,” said Hunt Auctions president, David Hunt.

“Bowie Kuhn presided over the game with uncompromising integrity and steadfast commitment to the best interests of baseball. We have been working very closely with the Kuhn family since last summer to carefully, and thoughtfully, select the items included in this special offering. In keeping with the spirit in which Commissioner Kuhn lived his life, we are pleased that a portion of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to several charities that were deeply important to Commissioner Kuhn and his family. The announcement of Commissioner Kuhn’s election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame came as a wonderful surprise to us in the middle of the cataloging process and surely promises to add even more excitement to an already significant event,” Hunt added.

  • One of the more anticipated items up for sale is Kuhn’s Major League Baseball commissioner’s ring. Given the inherent scarcity of such a piece – only nine men have served in the commissioner’s role from 1920 to the present – Hunt Auctions officials expect the ring to draw significant bidding interest, listing it with an estimate of $7,500-$10,000. Also available are 1 All-Star Game rings from the 1970s and ’80s, which are expected to realize $10,000-$20,000 in total. Kuhn’s 1969 commissioner contract, which is signed by baseball executives Warren Giles, Walter O’Malley, Gabriel Paul, Joseph Cronin and Kuhn, will also cross the block with a presale estimate of $5,000-$7,500.

For bidders wishing to own something more affordable, Hunt has listed 75 lots with estimates below $1,000, including signed baseballs, correspondence, commemorative black bats, baseball related jewelry, presentational awards and political ephemera.

In addition to the Commissioner Kuhn Collection, Hunt is auctioning a scarce and possibly unique Shoeless Joe Jackson photographic postcard circa 1908-09. The regionally issued postcard pictures Jackson playing for the Greenville Spinners, with a caption reading, “Joe Jackson, the Greenville Boy now with Philadelphia.” Jackson’s major league career began in 1908 with a fitful start under Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics, who traded Jackson to the Cleveland Naps after the 1909 season. Although it is impossible to determine whether the card was originally produced in 1908 or 1909, Hunt believes the card might have been produced shortly after Jackson left South Carolina for Philadelphia in 1908. Because the postcard is a recent find within the hobby and arguably the earliest known printed card of Jackson, Hunt is anticipating a final sale price of $20,000-$30,000.

A group of historical items from Hank Aaron’s very first days in baseball is being offered by the family of a prominent collector and baseball professional. Syd Pollock signed Aaron to a contract with the Indianapolis Clowns at the age of 17 and then subsequently sold the contract to the Braves. The Pollock Collection consists of 39 lots of correspondence, contracts, photographs and ledger books from Aaron’s first major league team. There are also two letters from a teenage Aaron accepting Pollock’s offer to play Major League ball valued at $2,500-$3,500 and $3,000-$4,000 each.
Additional highlights:

  • Cecil Cole 1946 Newark Eagles Negro League World Championship ring (estimate $15,000-$20,000)
  • Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig autographed baseball circa 1927-28 ($15,000-$20,000)
  • (12) lots of more than 1,000 Zeenut Pacific Coast League baseball cards, including 1922 Jim Thorpe ($15,000-$20,000 total)
  • (40) lots of high-grade Leaf football cards circa 1940s, including Sammy Baugh graded SGC 96 (Baugh: $10,000-$20,000)
  • 1976 Hank Aaron Milwaukee Brewers home jersey and pants ($7,500-$10,000)
  • 1954 Topps Aaron rookie graded SGC 92 ($5,000-$7,500)
  • (6) World Series trophies representing the 1960, 1971 and 1979 Pirates, 1986 Mets, 1974 Oakland A’s and 1981 Dodgers ($5,000-$12,500 each).

Bids may be made live and in person at the auction, via phone at (610) 524-0822 or online at www.HuntAuctions.com. More information and a list of items to be offered are available online.

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