It was a great year for the hobby. Prices soared, especially those in the vintage card market, treasure troves of cards were uncovered, and the hobby in general thrived. Topping the list at $3,263,246 is the “Laws of Base Ball,” the group of documents written in 1856 & 1857 that framed the foundation of America’s pastime.
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.
Setting one of the highest prices in the history of sports memorabilia, SCP Auctions has sold the Magna Carta of baseball for $3.3 million. While serving as president of the New York Knickerbocker Base Ball club, in 1857 Doc Adams established base paths at 90 feet, nine men to a team, nine innings to a game, and other rules that laid the foundation for the game as we know it.
A bidding war over a 159-year-old handwritten document listing the rules of the game of baseball led to the piece selling for over $3.2 million Saturday.
A handwritten “Laws of Base Ball” document sold for $3.3 million at a sports memorabilia auction conducted by SCP Auctions on Sunday. It took $3,263,246 to secure the 1857 baseball pages whose author was recently identified as Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, then president of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club. Adams drafted the manuscript for presentation at the historic baseball convention of 1857 in New York City.
Documents that baseball historians have called the Magna Carta of the game have sold at auction for nearly $3.3 million. SCP auctions says the 1857 papers called the “Laws of Baseball” sold early Sunday to an anonymous buyer after more than two weeks of bidding. The auction house had predicted prior to the auction’s April 7 start that they could sell for more than $1 million.
Like a heavyweight prizefight, online bidders were trading blow for blow in hot pursuit of the historical 1857 “Laws of Base Ball” documents in SCP Auctions’ 2016 Spring Premier auction, which concluded early Sunday morning. Once the dust had settled, an eye-popping high bid of $3,263,246 secured the precious baseball pages whose author was recently identified as Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, who was then serving as President of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club. Adams drafted the manuscript for presentation at the historic Base Ball Convention of 1857 in New York City. Adams’ “Laws of Base Ball” were the focal point of the convention and among dozens of newly proposed rules and guidelines established for the first time including setting the base paths at 90 feet, the number of men to a side at nine, and the duration of the game at nine innings.
“The ‘Laws of Base Ball’ is a document of unparalleled importance in the history of America’s National Pastime. Its gravitas was recognized by a diverse collection of astute bidders who pushed the bidding to a record level,” said SCP Auctions’ Vice President Dan Imler. “This figure represents not only the highest price ever paid for a baseball document, but the third highest price ever for any piece of sports memorabilia.”
By comparison, two other foundational sports documents that have sold at public auction include James Naismith’s 1891 Original Rules of Basketball, which sold for $4.3 million in 2010, and The 1859 Original Rules of Soccer, which sold for $1.4 million in 2011.
The overall auction, which featured 1,310 lots including 166 from the prestigious Don Drysdale Estate Collection, brought in a total of $7.2 million. Other top bids included a 1952 Topps Baseball complete set, $125,331; an extremely rare collection of unused, graded tickets representing all 50 Super Bowls, $100,026; and the historic August 23rd, 1989 signed agreement between Major League Baseball and Pete Rose that banned Rose from baseball for life, $85,602.
The Don Drysdale Estate Collection, the largest personal assortment of Dodgers memorabilia ever offered publicly, was led by the sale of the late Hall of Famer’s 1963 L.A. Dodgers World Series championship ring, which went for $110,111, and his 1962 Cy Young Award, which sold for $100,100. In addition, his 1965 Dodgers World Series championship ring fetched $90,999, while his 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers game-worn rookie season uniform captured $82,727.
Other highlights from the auction included:
- 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente Rookie Card #164 (NM-MT PSA 8) – $73,408
- 1961-62 Fleer Basketball Unopened 24-Count Wax Box, All GAI Graded – $68,367
- 1936 R327 Diamond Stars Baseball One-of-a-Kind Uncut Sheet – $62,256
- Dallas Baker’s 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Championship Ring – $62,152
- 1949 Hollywood Gold Cup Won by Solidarity, 63 Ounces of 14K Gold – $51,363
The buyers of the items wish to remain anonymous at this time. All prices include a buyer’s premium. Full auction results are available at SCP Auctions. -Terry Melia
A group of documents from 1857 that set down some of the fundamental rules of baseball was acquired at auction Sunday by an unidentified buyer for $3.26 million, making it one of the highest-priced pieces of sports memorabilia. “Laws of Base Ball” was put up for online bidding this month by SCP Auctions; the price paid was the most ever for a baseball document but below the $4.3 million paid in 2010 for James Naismith’s original 13 rules of basketball. The most expensive piece of sports memorabilia is a Babe Ruth jersey from 1920 that sold for $4.4 million in 2012.
A trove of historical documents that shed fresh light on the origins of baseball sold at auction on Sunday for more than $3.2 million, a record auction price for papers related to the sport that became America’s “national pastime.” The 23 pages of yellowed documents included original notes about the setting of official rules of the then-emerging sport of base ball, which evolved in the 19th century from earlier games using bats and balls.