Baseball BeatNovember 16, 2009
Holiday Shopping Ideas
By Rich Lederer

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring". — Rogers Hornsby

With the holiday season fast approaching, it's time to begin putting together your wish or gift list. You can do your part to stimulate the economy by purchasing an item or two in one of the many sports memorabilia auctions taking place in November and December.

In the 6th Annual Live Auction at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Hunt Auctions just sold Curt Flood's 1963 Rawlings Gold Glove Award for $13,200 (vs. an estimate of $5,000-$7,000) and his 1964 St. Louis Cardinals World Series ring for $21,000 (vs. an estimate of $15,000-$20,000).

Screen%20shot%202009-11-16%20at%207.55.34%20AM_2.jpgDo not despair if you missed out on those items last weekend. There's still three days left to bid on a Frank Chance 1911-12 Chicago Cubs Game Used Home Jersey in the Legendary Auctions. The current bid has risen from $10,000 to $42,500. With bidding increments at $2,500 and an 18.5 percent buyer's premium, you might be able to land this jersey for $53,325.

For those of you who like offense more than defense at first base, you can be the first to bid on a circa 1933 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Game-Used Home Flannel Jersey in the Grey Flannel 2009 Holiday Auction (shown at left). The minimum bid is only $225,000.

If you can't afford to lay out a quarter of a million dollars or more for the Gehrig jersey, then perhaps consider a 1927-1930 Benny Bengough New York Yankees Gamer. The platoon/backup catcher was a member of four World Series championship teams (1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932). He hit .258/.305/.322 (60 OPS+) in 95 games and 308 plate appearances for a team that went 69-85, yet finished 24th for the 1925 AL MVP Award. Bengough was either one helluva defensive catcher or had a relative who voted for him.

Bengough beat out Babe Ruth, who failed to garner a single vote in the only season from 1918-1931 in which the Bambino didn't lead the league in slugging, OPS, and OPS+.

According to Wikipedia, Ruth fell ill during spring training in 1925 and "returned to New York for what was reported as stomach surgery."

Ruth's ailment was dubbed "the bellyache heard round the world," when one writer wrote that Ruth's illness was caused by binging on hot dogs and soda pop before a game. Venereal disease and alcohol poisoning (caused by tainted liquor, a major health problem during the Prohibition) have also been speculated to be the causes of his illness. However, the exact nature of his ailment has never been confirmed and remains a mystery. Playing just 98 games, Ruth had what would be his worst season as a Yankee as he finished the season with a .290 average and 25 home runs. The Yankees team finished next to last in the American League with a 69-85 mark, their last season with a losing record until 1965.

Should jerseys not be your thing, you can pick up a 1927 Yankees (Murderers Row) autographed baseball. The signatures are faint but, hey, the bidding only starts at $5,000.

Boston Red Sox fans can add a 1972 Carl Yastrzemski Game-Used Home Flannel Jersey or a 2004 World Championship Ring to their collection. The latter belonged to Pablo Lantigua, a scouting supervisor who was fired last year for his involvement in the Dominican kickback scandal. The current bid is $12,100.

Lou Brock fans can bid on the Hall of Famer's 1974 Game Used Jersey (the one he wore to set the single-season stolen base record of 105) to the Game Used Base Stolen by him to break Ty Cobb's record to his 1967 World Championship Ring (current bid of $24,000) to a Game Used Glove or pair of Cleats to one of the many awards he won over the years. (View lots 1-78 here.)

If these items are out of your price range, consider bidding on a 1967 Jose Tartabull Boston Red Sox Worn & Autographed World Series Jacket. Heck, even if you're not a fan, this jacket might keep you warm during the cold winter months while waiting for Spring Training 2010. Only 104 days until March 1.


Is the auctioning of world series rings common, or is it a sign of someone falling on hard times? I raised an eyebrow at the auctions for Flood's and Brock's WS rings, but then wondered if it was common practice or not.

The auctioning of World Series rings is not common. It generally happens after a player dies or, as you say, after players fall on hard times. For some former players and families, the cash means more than what many would call prized possessions.