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If Baseball Advice is What You Need, Just Ask the Babe

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
March 28, 2005

Dear Babe: I found this Babe Ruth's Baseball Advice (32-page booklet) at a flea market 25 years ago. The front and back covers are not in the best condition. Can you tell me anything about its history?
Dave Sears, Redding, Calif.

Ruth put his name on any number of baseball books and pamphlets over the years. This one has a black and white photo of Ruth showing a youngster how to bunt with the title in red and yellow. I find it interesting that you found this back in 1980, which is apparently the same year a reprint of the original booklet was released. It appears to me that the newer versions have "$4.50" in the upper right-hand corner. Unfortunately, your booklet is pretty beat up. It's hard to tell from the photocopy if it is creased or cut. Either way, it cripples the value. I'd say a nice copy would be worth $75-$150. I'd be surprised if your copy would be worth even $15-$25 in its condition.

Dear Babe: Nearly 50 years ago, my great uncle gave my brothers and me a baseball signed by Honus Wagner.
John Zora, Dunwoody, Ga.

I don't know how your uncle was back then, but you'll probably think he's pretty great now.

"The value depends on how early he signed the ball," said Brian Marren, vice president of acquisitions for the Auctions in Chicago. "If we were able to get a ball from, say, 1910, I think that would be (worth) over $20,000. You can narrow the later 1940s and 1950s baseballs to $4,500 to $7,500." To prove that point, MastroNet sold a Wagner ball signed in 1951 for $5,758 in its December auction.

Dear Babe: I have a card with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and two others on it. It is No. 3 from Megacards.
Dorothy Higgins, Nashua, N.H.

Your card is from the 1995 Megacards Babe Ruth 100th Anniversary set commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards and The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest list the set at $5-$10. The 25-card sets sold new for $9.99. Your card features Ruth, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons. It's probably worth a quarter.

Dear Babe: I have two autographed baseballs. One signed by Luis Gonzalez and the other by Randy Johnson. The Gonzalez signature is on an unused 2001 World Series ball. The Johnson signature is on an official National League ball in blue ink on the sweet spot, with the inscription "cy 95,99,00." Both balls came with certificates of authenticity and have been kept in plastic casing and out of light for the few years I have had them. Do these balls have any legitimate value?
Timothy Bisulca, Woodbridge, Va.

When it comes to value, the apparently ageless Johnson is on the rise. It certainly won't hurt if he has a good year with the Yankees now that he's in the media capital. Beckett's monthly guide lists a single-signed ball at $150-$300, while Tuff Stuff has it at $150. I suspect Beckett's high-end value is for an authenticated sold by the likes of Steiner Sports. In fact, Steiner lists a variety of Johnson single-signed baseballs in the $270-$360 range. Tuff Stuff lists Gonzalez for $40 with Steiner selling baseballs at $50 (a WS ball like yours) and $120.

Dear Babe: In the 1970s, my father worked in and around Philadelphia. He gave me a small piece of paper with autographs of members of The Philadelphia 76ers. I think it's the starting lineup. The names are Lloyd Free, Darryl Dawkins, Julius Erving, Steve Mix and George McGinnis. What can you tell me about these signatures all on one piece of paper?
Jim Kearney, St. Libory, Neb.

It looks like you've got starters from the 1977-1978 squad, said Mike Breeden, a Sports Collectors Digest columnist and autograph expert. As far as we know, they're all alive and well. The sheet might be worth $50 tops, Breeden said.

Dear Babe: I have an interview of Jimmie Foxx on a 33 1/3-rpm record. It was done around 1960 at a local radio station. He talks about his baseball playing days, the reserve clause and the future of baseball, etc. The interview lasts about 15 minutes. The record is in good condition. I also have two autographed pictures when he worked for a beer distributor.
Fred Rowlands, Plymouth, Pa.

The record is one thing and the photos something else altogether. Unless there's a picture of Foxx on the record's jacket cover, I don't think this has much monetary value. It might have some value to someone putting together a documentary featuring Foxx. At least that's my humble opinion.

Tuff Stuff lists signed Foxx photos at $2,500 each. If your photos show him in uniform, i.e., from his playing days, the photos will have significant value, even though they might have been signed after he retired. If they have the beer company logo on them, that will hurt some.

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About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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