(Boston) RR Auction’s inaugural Sports auction has begun, with more than 650 stellar pieces. Bidding will be live through June 21.
The auction house has made its name with historical items across many categories, and this auction features many compelling stories from the history of sports. Here are just a few.
This high-grade Delahanty is arguably the nicest N300 Mayo's Cut Plug example featuring the Hall of Famer that the auction world has ever seen.
Known as the Black Beauties, the Mayos were inserted as premium in plug tobacco, and are usually replete with stains. However, this example does not have any of the pesky tobacco stains, which commonly downgrade the N300s.
“Any example of the Mayo Cut Plug in an acceptable grade as a type is difficult enough to obtain,” noted Louis Bollman, RR Auction’s sports collectibles expert, “but to have a HOF’r of Delahanty’s stature, plus one of the highest grades possible for any a card in that issue, is a rarity.”
The card features a tremendous image of a dapper Delahanty, whose hitting and fielding prowess mesmerized 19th century baseball fans. He was the first “five-tool” player in baseball history. This is a stellar example, which would not look out of place in a PSA NM 7 holder.
“This is the highest graded PSA example extant, with only four cards within the entire N300 set (over 500 graded examples!) which have graded higher than this Delahanty,” Bollman said.
This magnificent Chicago Bears road jersey was worn by running back Brian Piccolo. The off-white durene pull-over jersey features embroidered “41” numbers to chest, back, and both sleeves, with the proper King O’Shea manufacturer's tag sewn to the front left tail listing cleaning instructions and size, “44,” with hand-annotated “+3″ body.”
The letter of provenance includes the statement that “this shirt was not worn by any other player since Piccolo came up in 1965, the year the Bears went to tear-away shirts for their running backs & return men. His uniform number was retired after his death.” Also included is a Mears letter of opinion with official worksheet, evaluating the jersey with a base grade of 10 and a condition grade of -2 moderate wear.
The tragic story of Brian Piccolo was told in the made-for-television movie “Brian’s Song” in 1971. The film focused on the unlikely friendship between Piccolo and his teammate Gale Sayers, as well as the former’s sickness and untimely death at the age of 26. Late in the 1969 season, Piccolo took himself out of a game complaining of breathing problems and was soon diagnosed with embryonal cell carcinoma. Doctors were unable to stop the cancer’s spread, and after several surgeries, Piccolo died on June 16, 1970.
Bollman notes that Piccolo “almost wasn’t good enough to play pro ball; but sheer grit and determination got him on the Bears roster. This is only the second [Piccolo jersey] we’ve seen come to market in the last few decades. The other was a home jersey; this is an away.”
He adds that the scarcity of surviving tear-away jerseys makes this an exceptional offering. “The material [used is] another reason you don’t see these very often. They’re usually all shredded from game use and destroyed.” A Mears A8 is a rare well-preserved example from a man whose story transcended the realm of sports.
This astounding 14K white gold 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series Championship ring features a genuine diamond (possibly a replacement) set into a dark Dodger-blue stone. In fine condition, with light wear to the maker's mark inside the band.
The Brooklyn Dodgers’ championship victory over their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees, was the first and only World Series won during the team's time in Brooklyn. “The Dodgers faced the Yankees constantly in the World Series,” said Bollman. “This ring is so exciting because firstly, players or their families would rarely sell them; and secondly, it symbolizes the one and only Brooklyn World Series win.”
A truly superb ring from a historic World Series.
A complete set of track and field tickets for every event that Jesse Owens competed in during the Berlin 1936 Summer Olympics. These include all four days on which he won a gold medal: August 3 for the 100m sprint; August 4 for the long jump; August 5 for the 200m sprint; and August 9 for the 4x100 sprint relay. In overall fine condition, with paper loss to top right of the largest ticket.
The historic importance of Owens's success at the Olympics is unrivaled: no athlete is as closely identified with an Olympic Games as Jesse Owens is with Berlin 1936, and his four gold medals helped dispel Hitler's notion of Aryan supremacy, on Hitler’s own “home turf.”
“It's exceptionally rare to have a complete set of Berlin track and field tickets,” said RR Auction’s Olympics expert, Jonathan Becker.
RR Auction’s Sports auction is live for bidding June 14-21. See all Sports items here.