December 2007 Premier Auction

A distinctly new, regularly occurring live auction will be joining the Mastro Auction’s product line-up. Mastro Auctions Live Auction division is currently on target to conduct three live Connoisseur Auctions per year. The Connoisseur Auctions with be composed of primarily Fine Art and Americana items. The inaugural, live Connoisseur Auction will take place on Saturday, December 15 starting 10:00 a.m. at Mastro Auctions’ corporate headquarters located at 7900 S. Madison, Burr Ridge, IL. A public auction preview is available from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, December 14.

According to Allen, the change in the company’s line up will have a positive impacet when it comes to opening up certain categories of material to a more extensive base of customers. The Connoisseur Auctions will be held as a one-day live event utilizing the functionality of eBay Live. The events will combine various categories of Americana and Fine Art that will benefit from being presented in this new format. The Connoisseur Auction items will include, but will not be limited to Fine Art, political items, comics, illustration art and toys, as well as a host of more esoteric categories.

The Premier Sports and Americana Auctions will now be held over two days. As requested by our customers, the auction will end on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Premier Auctions will combine Mastro Auctions’ premium sports categories with non-sports cards and autographs (e.g. Presidential, historical, rock & roll, Hollywood, etc.) “We have found that these are the items that have the most cross-collecting potential in our Premier Auction events,” said Allen. “They are the categories that are most familiar to our core customer base and do well when offered in tandem.” The bidding format in Mastro’s Premier Auctions will remain unchanged.

Bidding in Mastro Auctions’ 1,500-plus lot phone/internet Premier Auction will begin on November 26 and conclude on Thursday, December 13. Specific highlights include:

Retired Numbers of Yankees Greats that Hung in Yankee Stadium – Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio

On April 15, 1976, Yankee Stadium reopened after two years of renovations. What was most noticeable was that the three monuments in center field were no longer there. The monuments erected to honor Miller Huggins (1932), Lou Gehrig (1941), and Babe Ruth (1949) had been moved behind the new outfield wall, as were the Ed Barrow, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Jacob Ruppert plaques. The framed swatches of actual Yankee pinstripes (with the blue felt retired numbers stitched on) and the name plaques that identified which number belong to which legend that were displayed inside the Stadium before its 1974-75 renovation were also gone. But unlike the monuments, the numbers and plaques were not placed back in the newly renovated stadium.

A 1997 letter from John Golden of Golden Glen Entertainment explains that he procured the retired numbers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio (numbers 3, 4 and 5) from the owner of a sports collectable store in Nyack, NY in 1976. The owner of the store acquired the retired numbers and corresponding plaques through the contractor in charge of the Yankee Stadium renovation who had secured the right to sell certain Yankee artifacts and memorabilia. The retired numbers were part of that transaction. In 1990, according to Golden, Nick Priore, who was the Yankees clubhouse manager and, at the time had been with the organization for 31 years, authenticated that they were, in fact, the retired numbers that hung in the stadium prior to the commencement of the refurbishing of Yankee Stadium. By comparing the relative toning of each retired number, it is clearly apparent that No. 4 was displayed for the longest length of time, and No. 5 for the shortest. More specifically the retired Yankees numbers include:

Lou Gehrig's Retired "Number 4" That Hung in Yankee Stadium - The First Number Retired in Professional Baseball

It is widely recorded that Lou Gehrig's No. 4 was retired on July 4, 1939, but that is not the case. That was "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at the Stadium, when 61,808 fans paid tribute to Gehrig when he told them "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." It wasn't until January 6, 1940 that Yankees President Edward G. Barrow announced that Gehrig's No. 4 would never again be worn by another Yankee, the first time in baseball history that a major league club had so honored a player. Lou Gehrig's blue felt No. "4" is sewn on authentic Yankee pinstripes. Stitched in blue script below the number are the words "Lou Gehrig Number retired July 4, 1939." The piece is accompanied by the original bronze "LOU GEHRIG" plaque which hung beneath his retired number. The minimum bid is $5,000.

Babe Ruth's Retired "Number 3" That Hung in Yankee Stadium

One would think that Babe Ruth's No. 3 would have been retired when he left the Yankees or at least after he had retired from baseball, but that was not the case. The Babe and the Yankees did not part company amicably after the 1934 season. As a result he did not receive the dubious honor until 1948. Babe Ruth's blue felt No. "3" is sewn on authentic Yankee pinstripes. Stitched in blue script beneath the number are the words "Babe Ruth Number retired June 13, 1948." The piece is accompanied by the original bronze "BABE RUTH" plaque which hung beneath his retired number. Minimum bid is $5,000.

Joe DiMaggio's Retired "Number 5" That Hung in Yankee Stadium

On April 18, 1952, before the Yankees home opener, DiMaggio's No. 5 was ceremoniously retired. Joe DiMaggio's blue felt "5" is sewn on authentic Yankee pinstripes. Stitched in blue script below the number are the words "Joe DiMaggio Number retired April 18, 1952." The piece is accompanied by the original bronze "JOE DI MAGGIO" plaque which hung beneath his retired number. Minimum bid $2,500.

Ted Williams Treasures – Given to a Cleveland Indians Batboy

Sometimes it really is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. At least that was the case with the Cleveland Indians batboy who was fortunate enough to handle a few bats for the then rookie Ted Williams. He walked away with some great memories and some extremely valuable pieces of sports memorabilia, including:

Earliest Ted Williams Game Used Bat Known – PSA 8.5

The “Splendid Splinter” wielded this Hillerich & Bradsby signature model bat the latter portion of the 1930s—it's possibilities spanning his Pacific Coast League audition, his Triple Crown season in Minneapolis and his rookie campaign in Boston. This bat in Mastro Auctions’ Premier sale is the earliest Ted Williams gamer known. Factory records for the Kentucky-based bat giant reveal Williams orders on May 12 and May 29, 1937 for models matching the specifications of the bat. Factory archives additionally list shipment of these small knob Cuccinello models in 1938. The bat's use during Williams' 1939 rookie season comes to light in the form of an LOA from a former Cleveland Indians bat boy who acquired the bat directly from Williams. The minimum bid is $2,500.

Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Game Worn Cap

Another great item given to the batboy by Ted Williams is a Boston Red Sox cap that was worn by the Fenway legend as he immediately established himself as the game's greatest hitter—perhaps of all-time. The navy blue wool BoSox cap was donned by the "Splendid Splinter" during his breakthrough four-year run. That fact is evidenced by the red felt "B" sewn to the front center. In the familiar Red Sox font, the character has been applied without the surrounding white trim that was added in 1946 and has remained to the present day. The Hall of Fame head wear shows heavy wear. The minimum bid is $2,500.


To pre-register for Mastro Auctions’ 2007 December Premier Auction and receive auction catalogs, call 630-472-1200 or go to

About Mastro Auctions
Mastro Auctions of Burr Ridge, Ill., is part of the Silkroad Equity family of companies. It is the leading high value collectibles auction company. The company has sold many of the most famous and valuable sports and Americana collectibles ever offered to the public, including the most expensive baseball card in history, the T206 Honus Wagner which sold for nearly $1.3 million, Norman Rockwell’s “The Dugout” for $355,000, Roger Maris’ 1961 jersey he wore when he hit home run #61 for $302,000, the bus Rosa Parks rode on when she refused to stand for segregation for nearly $500,000 and the famous Steve Bartman Cubs foul ball for over $100,000.