Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Ted Williams memorabilia highlight of Fenway auction
Posted Apr 24, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Apr 24, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Sure, the Boston Red Sox had that meltdown last Saturday. But even though manager Bobby Valentine is feeling some heat, there are some cool things happening at Fenway Park this weekend.
If you have the cash and are still licking your wounds after falling short of the winning $1.2 million bid for that Honus Wagner card auctioned off last week, fear not. Hunt Auctions (http://huntauctions.com) will be auctioning off 794 items at Fenway on Saturday, including a huge selection of personal effects, awards, memorabilia, coins, fishing gear and books that belonged to the Splendid Splinter, Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams.
I mean, there are some awesome things up for bid; check out the web site and look through the catalog for some amazing items. Williams’ collection was donated by his daughter, Claudia. Many of the items were in crates, left there since Williams’ death on July 5, 2002, in Inverness, about 50 miles north of Tampa.
My Tampa Tribune colleague, columnist Joe Henderson, has an exclusive interview with Claudia Williams and goes into more detail about the human side of this auction. Here is the link:
While Joe talked to Claudia, I looked through the auction catalog. And boy, there are some good items for sale.
Hunt Auction notes on its web site that a portion of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to The Jimmy Fund, which was Williams’ favorite charity.
Online pre-bidding is open until Thursday at 11 p.m. EST. Once the auction begins, you cannot bid online, although you can bid via phone or proxy.
The biggest prizes among the Williams collection are his 1949 American League Most Valuable Player Award (item No. 603), which already has soared to $146,000; and the Silver Slugger bat he was awarded to signify his winning the 1957 A.L. batting title — his sixth and final batting title of a career that saw him average .344. That’s item No. 597, by the way, and it already has climbed to $99,000 in pre-auction bids.
Item No. 386 is interesting, too — it’s an autographed baseball, personally inscribed to Williams from Babe Ruth. That one is hovering near $54,000. A Williams home Red Sox jersey from 1954 ($76,230) and a road flannel from 1955 ($55,000) also are also big-ticket items.
Item No. 58 is Williams’ A.L. championship ring from 1946, the only year he made it to the World Series. That already has surpassed $12,000 in bidding.
Want to own Ted’s credit cards? Expired, of course, but both his old Visa and MasterCards will be auctioned, along with his wallet (which contains his Social Security card and several photographs). Passports, medical forms, applications for loans — all available to the highest bidder.
Something unique is item No. 133. It is a canceled check for $250, signed by Williams and made out to NHL Hall of Famer Bobby Orr. The money was for a camp sponsored by the Boston Bruins’ great, and the check is endorsed on the back by Orr. Talk about a sweet, double-sided collectible.
How about a baseball autographed by five men who batted .400 or higher in a season? Apparently signed in 1958 during an event at Toots Shor’s restaurant in New York, it holds the signatures of Williams, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, George Sisler and Bill Terry. The autograph of Pirates great Fred Clarke also is on the ball, but he doesn’t pass muster — his best average was .390 in 1897. Where were the signatures of the other .400 hitters? Harry Heilmann and Shoeless Joe Jackson died in 1951, and besides, very few Jackson autographs exist. Napoleon Lajoie was still alive but died in February 1959, so he might have been in ill health and unable to make the trip.
Another item is so precious, I am not sure why it is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Probably too expensive. It is the baseball used to throw out the first pitch in the first major-league game played at Fenway Park, on April 20, 1912. It’s already topped $140,000 in bidding.
It looks like The Jimmy Fund will receive a huge chunk of money from this auction, and even the gruff Ted Williams would smile about that.