What if I told you that there’s a Honus Wagner card 75 times rarer than the 1910 tobacco card that sold for $3.1 million one year ago? In fact, it’s the only one of its kind. And so far the price is only $3,194 (with the buyer’s premium) in a SCP auction closing on November 4. As I file this post, it has three measly bids.
Utah Jazz ball boy Alex Rodriguez wouldn’t take money from Michael Jordan, so MJ came up with another way to pay him for two tickets to a sold-out Jazz-Chicago Bulls game in 1993: His shoes.
A pair of Michael Jordan‘s game-used shoes gifted to a Utah Jazz ballboy in exchange for a pair of tickets are hitting the auction block. They’re being sold by SCP Auctions and they were worn on Feb. 1, 1993, when Jordan’s Bulls knocked off the Jazz, 96-92.
SCP Auctions is featuring a pair of Michael Jordan’s game-used Nike shoes from 1993 in its current 2017 Fall Premier online auction. The unique acquisition of these shoes – from a former ball boy with the Utah Jazz – is a story worth telling. Now open for bidding through Sat., Nov. 4, at www.scpauctions.com, the current high bid on this particular pair of shoes is $6,430 with two days to go. They are expected to exceed $15,000 once bidding closes.
The significant pair of Jordan’s game-worn Air Jordan VII ‘Cardinal’ sneakers are from the Chicago Bulls’ thrilling 96-92 road victory over the host Utah Jazz on Feb. 1, 1993. The scene inside the Delta Center was very tense that day, not just because it pitted two of the NBA’s top teams, but mainly because Jordan had recently made disparaging comments about Salt Lake City as the host of the upcoming ’93 All-Star game. Jazz fans booed him vigorously every time he touched the ball. All that did was fire “Air Jordan” up.
Jordan even made an incredible half-court shot to beat the first half buzzer, nodding to the crowd in a sarcastic show of thanks. Chicago trailed by 20 points in the final seconds of the third quarter and were still down by 13 with six minutes left. That’s when “His Airness” took over, scoring 20 points himself in the final 8:45 and willing his team to the four-point victory. He finished with 37 points on 13-28 shooting and seven rebounds, overshadowing a 40-point effort from Jazz star Karl Malone.
The story behind the acquisition of these shoes, however, is one worth telling. Former Utah Jazz ball boy, Alex Rodriguez, who had befriended the superstar on previous trips to Utah, was working in the visitor’s locker room prior to the game and overheard Jordan asking about extra tickets to that night’s game.
“He needed two extra tickets and not even the Utah Jazz ticket manager had any left,” recalls Rodriguez. “I sat next to Jordan and told him he could have my two tickets since the ball boys each received two to every game. He was very thankful and said he wanted to buy them from me. I told him, ‘No, you can just have them.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Okay, then you can have my shoes after the game.’”
When the game ended, Jordan was swarmed in the visiting locker room. “You couldn’t even see him what with all of the reporters. Suddenly he just stood up and called over to me. He asked the reporters to move and it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. I walked up through the gauntlet of reporters and he signed the shoes and said: ‘Here, Alex. Thank you very much. You are very kind.’ I said thanks and took off with the shoes and hid them in my locker.”
The size 13 shoes are the rare Air Jordan VII ‘Cardinal’ style heavily coveted by collectors. White with red and black accents, they sport a silhouetted Michael Jordan flying in for a slam dunk embroidered in gold on each ankle. Both shoes include Jordan’s patented number “23” in raised white numbers on the heels positioned on top of a red and black triangular motif. “AIR JORDAN” is embroidered in black into both white tongues and they are both properly tagged on the interior with “920112FT2”. The shoes have each been signed by Michael on the outer rear area in black marker just below the embroidered gold silhouette. The shoes show evident court use and are properly tagged and structurally sound, with their original white laces.
Bidding is open to registered bidders only at www.scpauctions.com and closes on Sat., Nov. 4. Please call 949-831-3700 for info. -Terry Melia
A Utah Jazz ball boy who did Michael Jordan a big favor in 1993 when home fans booed the NBA superstar mercilessly for disparaging comments about Salt Lake City, came away with a pair of valuable game-worn Nikes. Now that pair of personally gifted shoes from a memorable moment in Jordan’s career are on the auction block.
He belonged to Pittsburgh, but folks in Paterson, NJ looked at Honus Wagner like one of their own. Playing for the minor league Paterson Silk Weavers in 1896 and ’97, the Carnegie, PA resident honed his game to a big league level. When his long and storied major league career was winding to a close 20 years later, Wagner and the Pirates returned to Paterson one last time for “Honus Wagner Day”. Now, a one-of-a-kind advertising card of Wagner, dating to that 1917 visit, is on the auction block.
SCP Auctions is proud to present an array or original works of art from the late NFL player-turned-painter Ernie Barnes as part of its current 2017 Fall Premier Auction. Each of the original pieces originates from the recently closed San Diego Hall of Champions museum and online bidding runs through Sat., November 4. Proceeds from the online auction will benefit the Hall’s ongoing awards and recognition programs, community outreach initiatives, and the Breitbard Hall of Fame, which was recently relocated to the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in Petco Park. The story of Ernie Barnes is one worth telling.
Ernest Eugene Barnes, who was born in 1938, would come to be celebrated as a great painter and charcoal illustrator, well known for his use of elongation and movement within his works. An African-American, he grew up in Durham, North Carolina and although he started at an early age, opportunities for black artists were unheard of in his youth. A self-described chubby kid, Barnes was bullied by classmates and often sought refuge in his sketchbooks, hiding in the less-traveled parts of campus. One day, young Ernest was found drawing in a notebook by the masonry teacher, Tommy Tucker, who was also the junior high school’s weightlifting coach. Tucker was intrigued with Barnes’ drawings so he asked the aspiring artist about his grades and goals. Tucker shared how bodybuilding improved his strength and outlook on life. That one encounter would change Barnes’ life. In his senior year at Hillside High School, he became captain of the football team and won a state title in the shot put. By the time he graduated, he had no less than 26 college football scholarship offers.
The six-foot-three, 250-pound Barnes went on to not only play college football and graduate from North Carolina College at Durham – where he majored in art – but made it to the AFL where he competed for five seasons (1960 to ’64) as an offensive lineman for the New York Titans, San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. This up-close perspective of the game he loved would soon translate to his art.
“My drawings portray the moods and excitement of the game of football – a game that does strange things to men,” Barnes once said. “It makes them lose their heads. It makes them hate.”
In December of ‘59, Barnes was drafted by the then-World Champion Baltimore Colts. On Dec. 27, the offensive lineman watched his new team in person beat the New York Giants, 31-16, to win its second straight title. A couple of nights later, Barnes pulled out a canvas and began painting. At age 22, while at Colts training camp, Barnes was interviewed by N.P. Clark, a sportswriter for the Baltimore News-Post newspaper. Until then Barnes had always known by his birth name, Ernest. But when Clark’s article appeared on July 20, 1960, it referred to him as “Ernie” Barnes, which changed his name and life forever. As it turns out, Barnes was the last cut of the Colts’ training camp that summer. After Baltimore released him, the newly formed New York Titans immediately signed him.
In 1965 a fractured right foot ended Barnes’s pro football career and with that development he attended the NFL owners meeting in Houston with the hopes of becoming the league’s official artist. It was there he was introduced to New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin, who was intrigued by Barnes and his art. He paid for the artist to bring his paintings to New York City. They met at a gallery and unbeknownst to Barnes, three art critics were there to evaluate his paintings. They told Werblin that Barnes was “the most expressive painter of sports since George Bellows.” Werblin paid him a year’s salary to get started.
“One day on the playing field I looked up and the sun was breaking through the clouds, hitting the unmuddied areas on the uniforms, and I said, ‘That’s beautiful!’” Barnes once wrote. “I knew then that it was all over being a player. I was more interested in art. So I traded my cleats for canvas, my bruises for brushes, and put all the violence and power I’d felt on the field into my paintings.”
His work, which mostly depicts black people, is kinetic and often vividly bright. The strain of competing bodies is evident in the curves, stretches and muscular exertions of the figures. His most famous painting, “The Sugar Shack,” is a jubilant dancing scene that appeared not only on the cover of recording artist Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album “I Want You” but was also shown during the closing credits of the TV show “Good Times.” Though it’s not sports-related, it’s nonetheless a characteristic work of Barnes with its distinct vibrant tumble of bodies.
In 2009, Barnes died of complications caused by a rare blood disorder at the age of 70. In 2014, the Pro Football Hall of Fame hosted an exhibit featuring Barnes’s work. For the occasion, Bernie, his wife of 25 years, donated her husband’s prized painting entitled “The Bench” to the museum. It hangs there today, an example of Barnes’s ability to find beauty in an otherwise brutal game.
SCP Auctions is proud to present Barnes’ originals within its 2017 Fall Premier auction. Bidding is open to registered bidders only at www.scpauctions.com and initial bidding ends on Sat., Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. PDT. For more information on how to participate and take part in the bidding, please call 949-831-3700. -Terry Melia
Hundreds of sports memorabilia items from the San Diego Hall of Champions will be auctioned off in SCP Auctions‘ 2017 Fall Premier Auction. Items have opened for online bidding here and runs through Nov. 4. The proceeds will benefit Hall of Champions recognition programs and outreach initiatives.