Barry Bonds soon will surpass all of his godfather's records, all except one. Oh sure, Bonds owns the million-dollar salary, the single-season home run record and four MVP awards, but he doesn't have a six-figure trading card. The godfather does. Willie Mays' 1951 Bowman (PSA MINT 9) sold for a record $109,639 in the first day of the Nov. 17-18 MastroNet sale. According to the latest PSA Population Report, this is one of only two examples of this card to attain a MINT 9 grade.
The card was just one of many high-dollar sales in the $4.67 million MastroNet sale, strongly suggesting that muscles many had feared atrophied from a weak economy and the tragic events of Sept. 11, are very much flexed. In addition to being attracted by quality, perhaps bidders are ebullient from a fabulous seven-game World Series, Michael Jordan's return, and Uncle Sam having the Taliban on the run. SportsCards Plus and American Memorabilia joined MastroNet with major auction results. A couple of other large auctions, one by Leland's, the other by Grey Flannel Auctions, were also a few weeks away.
The SportsCards Plus sale of Nov. 14 offered a number of headline items, namely the Great Western Forum center court, 13 pieces from NBA giant George Mikan, and a set of unused Super Bowl tickets. The old Lakers court, which included a visit from Magic Johnson, was purchased for $119,000, including commission. Among the Mikan items was his copy of the lithograph commemorating the NBA's 50th anniversary, the one signed by 49 of the 50 all-time greatest players, which sold for $42,806.
Five years ago, the NBA made available these pieces for $25,000. The league heaped other gear and jewelry on the celebrated players. Mikan chose to part with many such gifts. His anniversary ring sold for $12,325, his leather jacket for $5,809. Meanwhile, Mikan's 1952 All-Star Game ring sold for $9,860. The Super Bowl tickets from all 35 games sold for $48,370, almost 10 times the minimum bid. An item that obviously caught the eye of bidders was a pair of signed goggles worn by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The specs went for $4,353.
Among widely watched trading cards, Mickey Mantle's 1952 Topps card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $33,898; a 1915 Sporting News card of Babe Ruth (#151, PSA 6 EX-MT) sold for $13,558; Michael Jordan's rookie card, the Fleer #57 (PSA 10 GEM MINT) sold for $12,628; and Wayne Gretzky's 1979 O-Pee-Chee card (PSA 9 MINT) sold for $7,396.
Perhaps more impressive were the prices yielded in lots featuring rare vintage cards. A 1911 T201 Double Folder Walter Johnson card, in PSA 8 NM-MT, the highest graded such card, sold for $4,068; a scarce Charlie Comiskey Lone Jack card from 1886 (PSA 3 VG) sold for $4,930. The card is a reminder that Comiskey was quite the accomplished player for the St. Louis Browns before he became the penny-pinching owner of the White Sox; from the same century, an 1894 P.H. Mayo tobacco football card of Frank Hinkey (PSA 7 NM) sold for $2,462; and a 1951 Bowman Whitey Ford card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $7,009.
A trio of 1968 test basketball cards drew very strong prices from collectors. Wilt Chamberlain's card (PSA 7 NM), the first card in the set and one of only seven such PSA-graded cards, with only one in a higher grade, sold for $4,683, more than nine times the minimum bid; Bill Russell's card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $7,020; and a Jerry West's card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $5,802.
Four 1953 Bowman Color Proof Dodgers in Action cards, one of four known proofs produced by the card manufacturer, sold in the sale. The cards were making their debut as a PSA-graded collection. The card that attracted the highest price ($2,908) showed a play at the plate; a shot of Warren Spahn going into his windup sold for $2,405; an action shot of Ferris Fain throwing the ball sold for $2,188; and Enos Slaughter on one knee, leaning on a couple of bats, sold for $926.
Among other items that sold were:
- A 1910 T210 Old Mill card of Casey Stengel (PSA 6 EX-MT) sold for $2,463
- A 1915 Fred Clarke Cracker Jack card (PSA NM-MT) sold for $2,710
- A 1933 Goudey Luke Sewell card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $1,868
- A 1933 Goudey Harold Schumacher card (PSA NM-MT) sold for $1,726
- A 1936 Diamond Stars card of Red Lucas (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $2,708
- From the 1952 Topps set Allie Reynolds (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $1,161, Russ Meyer's card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $1,190, Dick Rozek's card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $1,083, Billy Hoeft's card (PSA 8 NM-MT) sold for $1,083 and Chuck Dressen's card (PSA NM-MT) sold for $2,642
- A PSA 9 MINT version of the 1959 Topps card, "Aaron Clubs World Series Homer," sold for $926; from the same set Ted Kluzewski's (PSA 9 MINT) card sold for $477
- A Topps Rub-Offs Sandy Koufax card (PSA 10 GEM MINT) sold for $1,597; a Willie Mays Rub-Offs card (also PSA 10 GEM MINT) sold for one dollar less
- Yankee Hal Reniff's 1961 World Series ring sold for $18,975; and Willie Davis' 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers ring, sold for $9,492
- A Kobe Bryant game-used road jersey from 1998-'99 for $2,296
- A pair of Kobe's shoes worn in Game 5 of last year's championship final for $1,391
- A Shaquille O'Neal home game-used jersey for $3,450
- Andy Pafko's 1952 Topps card (PSA 7 NM), number one in the set, sold for $6,592
- Roy Campanella's '52 Topps card (PSA 7 NM) sold for $3,018; and The 418-lot sale grossed $826,000
Next to the Mays card, the 833-lot, MastroNet sale featured other historic cards, photos and gear, particularly game-used bats. An ungraded Honus Wagner T206 card (Piedmont backing) that's rated in "good" condition sold for $86,729; Babe Ruth's Sporting News card from 1915 (PSA NM-MT 8) sold for a record $60,451.
A number of complete or near-complete sets also fetched many multiples of the minimum bid. A collection of 55 cards from the 1912 Plow's Candy set, with a third of the cards graded NM or better by PSA, sold for $90,199. A complete 1951 Bowman baseball set that PSA graded 71 percent as NM or better sold for $85,903. A 1953 Bowman complete baseball set, with two-thirds of the set graded EX or better, sold for $67,305. A collection of 377 Old Judge cards from 1886-1890, of which 75 percent were graded from VG to EX, sold for $70,670. A complete set of 1952 Topps baseball cards sold for $43,679.
The MastroNet sale also offered an extensive group of game-used bats. Ty Cobb led the way during the first day of the two-day sale with a gamer that fetched $77,142. A Mel Ott game-used bat (1934-37) sold for $54,004; a Mantle game-used bat from 1961 sold for $20,171; a Joe DiMaggio gamer sold for $18,337; an Eddie Collins Reach gamer circa 1910 sold for $15,284; Stan Musial's All-Star game bat from 1960 - signed - sold for $11,641; Pee Wee Reese's game-used bat from the '52 World Series sold for $17,603. The bat came from Reese's niece. Roberto Clemente's game-used bat from 1966 sold for $12,806; and a game-used Willie Mays bat circa '61-'64 sold for $10,928.
Al Gionfriddo's famous glove from his well-remembered '47 Series caught a winning bid of $12,329. A game-used Willie Mays glove circa 1965, and loaded with countless basket catches, sold for $18,307. Fast-forwarding to the present, a game-used Derek Jeter glove from 1999 sold for $4,817.
A couple of items commemorating Addie Joss Day in 1911 were also sold. One was a panoramic shot of the players who stepped up to help Joss's widow. It sold for $18,522; a ball signed by many of the game's participants, including Joe Jackson, sold for $22,412. A ball signed by Christy Mathewson and noted "1923 World Series" sold for $16,002. A six-page handwritten Mathewson letter sold for $20,343.
A number of historic Ruth items sold well. His 1935 Boston Braves contract -- for $75,000 over three years-sold for $18,493; a broadside touting an exhibition game with Ruth and Lou Gehrig sold for $32,816; a couple of Ruth-signed balls eclipsed the $20,000 figure.
Among other items in the MastroNet sale:
- The 1909 American Caramel Joe Jackson (PSA VG3), the true rookie card of the shoeless one, sold for $5,419
- A 1953 Bowman card of Roy Campanella, one of only three PSA MINT 9 in existence with none graded higher, sold for $7,216
- A 1948 Leaf card of Warren Spahn sold for 2,132
- A 1948 Leaf card of Satchel Paige (PSA NM 7) sold for 12,640
- A 1960 Topps card of Eddie Mathews (PSA MINT 9) sold for 1,599
- A 1960 Topps All-Star card of Mathews (PSA MINT 9) sold for $1,079
- A 1963 Topps Mathews card (PSA 9) sold for $1,321
- A 1966 Topps Pete Rose card (PSA MINT 9) sold for $7,463
- A rookie era Roger Maris game-used bat sold for $7,948
- A game-used Hank Aaron bat from '73-'75 sold for $5,969. Aaron signed and noted "755" on the bat
- A Roberto Clemente game-used bat from '69-'72 sold for $6,412
- A game-used Ernie Banks, signed, sold for $5,299
- Mike Schmidt's 1976 All-Star Game bat, bearing logo commemorating the nation's bicentennial, sold for $4,817
- A 1980 World Series bat used by Schmidt sold for $5,829
- Frank Robinson's rookie-era game-used bat, boldly signed, sold for $5,299
- A complete 1954 Topps set, with 89 percent of the cards grading NM or better, sold for $21,300
- A complete 1955 Topps set, with 60 percent graded NR-MT to MT, sold for $10,582
- A complete 1958 Topps baseball set, with 65 percent of the 494 cards, graded from EX to EX-MT, sold for $5,910
- A complete production sheet of 110 cards graded EX-MT, including Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Al Kaline, Walt Alston, Ernie Banks, Warren Spahn, sold for $15,496
- A complete set of 96 cards from the 1934 Goudey set sold for $11,625
- A complete 1962 Topps baseball set, with 40 percent grading NM, sold for $15,128
- Al Kaline's game-worn jersey from 1971 sold for $16,002
- Eddie Mathews' 1964 game-worn flannel jersey sold for $10,850
Some collectors were not fazed by the fact that Mark McGwire is now the No. 2 single-season home run king. During the past couple of years, however, many people spent top dollar for McGwire items-bats, jerseys, balls, and lineup cards. They figured his record of 70 home runs in a single season, which smashed the 38-year-old record held by Roger Maris, would last more than three years. Of course, no one forked over more dollars than Todd McFarlane, the Marvel comic strip king, who paid $3 million for the 70th home run ball.
Sellers of legit McGwire items have seen prices cut in half in the wake of Bonds' 73-home run performance, a weak economy, and the events of Sept. 11. A recent lot showcasing two single-signed balls by the members of the 70 Home Run Club didn't even crack $700. A small auction with a legit McGwire signature could not even attract a minimum bid of $300. Maybe someone missed something. Their minds were understandably elsewhere.
Yet, with McGwire announcing his retirement, a couple of collectors ignored the marketplace and paid top dollar. In the recent MastroNet sale, a single-signed McGwire ball with a "70" notation sold for $1,938; in the SportsCard Plus sale a 1985 Topps PSA GEM MINT rookie card sold for $1,818.