Base-ball, as it was called in the mid-1800s, was a lawless enterprise. Alcohol, gambling, rudeness, disloyalty and quitting (by players and teams) in the middle of a season, players sitting among the spectators, spectators disrupting play on the field were symptoms of a game that was in many ways considered disgraceful.
On one end of baseball evolution is the supremely talented Mike Trout, and on the other is a couple of pieces of paper from 1857 under lock and key at an auction house in Laguna Niguel. The handwritten “Laws of Base Ball” documents just sold at auction to an anonymous buyer for $3,263,246, prompting SCP Auctions Vice President Dan Imler to predict that baseball will never be the same. That’s a pretty good return on investment for an initial purchase of $12,000. But more on the transaction in a bit.
Modern baseball may have found its birth certificate, and with it a new birth date – and new founding father. Coinciding with the start of the major league season, a set of game-changing documents went up for sale this week. Their authenticity and significance are verified by experts that include John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian.
Modern baseball may have found its birth certificate. And with it a new birth date, and new founding father. Coinciding with the start of the major league season, a set of game-changing documents went up for sale this week. Their authenticity and significance are verified by experts including John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian. The 1857 documents titled “Laws of Base Ball” establish the essentials of the modern game: The distance of the base paths is 90 feet, the length of the game is nine innings and nine players are in the field.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Modern baseball may have found its birth certificate. And with it a new birth date, and new founding father. Coinciding with the start of the major league season, a set of game-changing documents went up for sale this week. Their authenticity and significance are verified by experts including John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian. The 1857 documents titled “Laws of Base Ball” establish the essentials of the modern game: The distance of the base paths is 90 feet, the length of the game is nine innings and nine players are in the field. And they do it three years earlier than the 1860 birth date now recognized.
A 159-year-old document that helped establish the modern rules of baseball will be on the auction block this spring and may bring an historic price. Drafted in New York City during the game’s infancy, the “Laws of Base Ball” outlined the rules and guidelines by which players and clubs would follow when playing in “match games of base ball.” Many of its proposed elemental rules, from setting base paths at 90 feet, to settling on nine players per team, to fixing the duration of the game at nine innings, owe their genesis to the document that was drafted during a convention of New York area baseball clubs in 1857.
When it was auctioned in 1999, a document called “Laws of Base Ball” had no known author but obvious significance. Within its pages were fundamental rules like nine men on a side and 90-foot basepaths. But the “Laws” — and two documents inspired by it — sold for only $12,650 in a Sotheby’s auction devoted to books and manuscripts. Now, the buyer is turning into a seller in an online auction by SCP Auctions that will begin on April 6.
He will forever be “Mr. Cub,” the most popular player ever to roam the friendly confines of Chicago’s Wrigley Field. His sunny personality is legend, as is his refrain on a sunny day: “Let’s play two!” The first black player on the Cubs, Banks came up as a shortstop, where he won consecutive MVP awards (1958-59), but actually played more games at first base. Always a fan favorite with the Chicago Cubs during his playing days from 1953 to ’71, Banks even joined the Cubs coaching staff following his retirement. He still holds team records for games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009) and total bases (4,706). And now one of his rarest Cubs jerseys is on the auction block at SCP Auctions. The current high bid with 11 days remaining is $44,291.00.
As most advanced flannel collectors know, Banks is considered the third rarest 500 HR Club member jersey behind Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx in completely original, unaltered condition. Remarkably, it is widely believed that more Babe Ruth jerseys exist than those of Banks. One theory as to their extreme scarcity is that several of the handful of known original Banks jerseys were tragically dismantled by various trading card companies for use on “swatch” cards in recent decades. Among the few surviving original, unaltered Banks jerseys known, the 1969 Cubs home example ranks near the top. Largely unknown to the collecting community it has rested quietly for more than 20 years as the centerpiece to the late Bill Riddell’s esteemed collection in southern California.
“With regard to quality, condition, rarity and provenance, we unabashedly rank this among the finest game worn flannels our firm has ever handled,” said Dan Imler, vice president at SCP Auctions.
Stunningly beautiful, the jersey’s impeccable technical details include a Wilson size 40 tag sewn on the front tail along with a black chain stitched “1969”. Inside the collar is a strip tag reading “14-69-1-40″ in chain stitch indicating the jersey number, year of issue, set number and size. The embroidered circular Cubs logo is sewn onto the chest while Banks number “14” is sewn on the reverse in blue tackle twill. A Cubbie Bear patch appears on the left sleeve and its original MLB 100th Anniversary patch remains on the right sleeve. Banks has signed the front of the jersey in large black marker. It is worth noting that among the other known Banks jerseys is a similar 1969 home Set 2 (this is the Set 1). In spite of the Set 2 example having a replaced MLB Anniversary patch it sold at auction in 2012 for $169,000.
Online bidding is open to registered bidders and concludes Saturday, Dec. 6. The auction is being conducted online at SCP Auctions. For more information, call 949-831-3700.
Nearing the 86th meeting this Saturday between college football powerhouses USC and Notre Dame, a very prestigious award – the 1929-31 College Football National Championship Trophy ‘The Albert Russel Erskine Trophy’ – is on the auction block at www.scpauctions.com. Its current high bid with 10 days remaining in the online auction is $6,655.00. Estimates put the winning bid near $30,000.
“This is undoubtedly one of, if not the most significant college football trophies ever offered at public auction,” said Dan Imler, vice president of SCP Auctions. “Its historical importance is matched by its physical presence.”
In the 1920s, Erskine, an American businessman and Studebaker Corporation President, served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame, where his son Albert, Jr. studied. He took a strong interest in college football and initiated in 1929 the Albert Russel Erskine Award for the best team of the year. The winner was chosen by a panel of American sportswriters whose methods are still used to select the college football national champion. The award bears special engravings on the front recognizing the national championship teams from 1929 to ’31: Notre Dame (1929 and ‘30) and USC (1931). The grandiose, silver-plated trophy, which stands 21” tall, 21” wide and weighs 16-and-a-half pounds, is an impressive piece of artistic craftsmanship. The oversized goblet, plated by Reed & Barton, boasts rings of raised olive leaves around its base as well as around the top of the trophy’s cup. A pair of very ornate handles can be found on either side. Engraved across the front is the following passage: “THE ALBERT RUSSEL ERSKINE TROPHY FOR THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP AS DETERMINED BY AMERICAN SPORTSWRITERS.” Accompanying the trophy is a special “ALBERT RUSSEL ERSKINE AWARD” scroll/certificate that was awarded to USC Head Coach Howard Jones for winning the 1931 National Championship. Committee members of the board that presented the award read like a regular “Who’s Who” of important Americans at the time including Avery Brundage, Robert T. “Bobby” Jones, Jr., Douglas MacArthur, Connie Mack, Theodore Roosevelt and Wm. Wrigley Jr.
The accompanying image captured in 1932 shows legendary USC coach Howard Jones standing next to his car with both this trophy and his young daughter displayed proudly on its hood. Online bidding is open to registered bidders and concludes Saturday, Dec. 6. The auction is being conducted online at www.scpauctions.com. For more information, call 949-831-3700.