By Dennis Tuttle
For more than 100 years, the World Series has captured our imagination and dated us to memories in time, place and circumstance. If your team has won the championship, you know the exhilaration of the moment. Maybe you popped champagne (Reds, 1975) or tossed confetti (Yankees, 26 times) in the street. Perhaps you screamed until you were horse (Mets, 1969) or fell to your knees crying (Red Sox, 2004). Maybe you turned over a parked car and set a building on fire (Detroit, 1984). But that’s OK, you’re among friends now. Your secret is safe here.
For many fans and baseball memorabilia enthusiasts, the World Series is the threshold of their collections. Team and player items, along with World Series memorabilia of vintage and historical nature, create several niches and price points. And with trade shows, specialized publications and the Internet, a collector can find almost any World Series item he desires – price be damned.
Consider finding a near-pristine 1919 World Series Cincinnati Reds team-signed ball during a mid-2007 Antique Roadshow taping in Louisville, Ky. Unreal.
So with the 2008 fall classic approaching, Tuff Stuff’s Sports Collectors Monthly takes a look at some of the essential World Series collectibles. By no means is this list comprehensive or entailing, but the idea is to give you some random looks at the categories, items and values of a great hobby. That is, if your team has won a championship. SCM
It’s almost impossible to narrow the World Series to just a few great moments, but here’s our “Great Eight” list that not only includes a memorable play but most also have collector interest:
Babe Ruth, Game 3, 1932
The power of the Babe’s “Called Shot” will live on for generations because we’ll never know for sure if it’s fact or fiction. Sentimentalists, we prefer the latter and a good portion of Ruth’s World Series collectibility centers around this event.
Item to collect: 1932 Cubs Game 3 program, $1,500
Willie Mays, Game 1, 1954
In what is simply known as “The Catch,” the great Giants center fielder turns his back to the infield and makes an over-the-shoulder catch against the Indians’ Vic Wertz. One of the most famous images in baseball history.
Item to collect: Signed photo, $115 and above
Don Larsen Game 5, 1956
Larsen didn’t know he was starting until he arrived at the stadium and found the ball in his spikes, so he casually throws the only perfect game in Series history.
Item to collect: Game 5 ticket stub, $600
Bill Mazeroski, Game 7, 1960
The Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski may be an HOFer and the best defensive second baseman of all time, but he’ll always be remembered for his dramatic walk-off home run leading off the bottom of the ninth to beat the favored Yankees. Considered by many the greatest moment in World Series history.
Item to collect: Oct. 14, 1960 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette day-after World Series paper has a huge front-page headline that blares BUCS ARE THE CHAMPS. Price: $100
Carlton Fisk, Game 6, 1975
One of the five best World Series of all time, Fisk ends an incredible Game 6 with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning, waving the ball to stay fair on its path.
Item to collect: 16-by-20 signed photo taken from NBC’s left field camera of Fisk waving the ball fair. From Tristar, $195
Reggie Jackson, Game 6, 1977
Reggie hits three home runs off different Dodger pitchers to lift the Yankees to the championship and earn him the nickname “Mr. October.”
Item to collect: Game 6 ticket ($125) or stub ($60), signed, $150
Kirk Gibson, Game 1, 1988
Hero limps off the trainer’s table nursing a pulled hamstring to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth off future HOFer Dennis Ecklersley of the A’s, and hits walk-off home run. He can barely make it around the bases in a moment that even Eck acknowledges as spectacular.
Item to collect: Signed 8-by-10 photo of giving first pump going around bases, $30.