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Right or Wrong: Leiter's Rookie Card Has Little Value

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
June 19, 2005

Dear Babe: I have a 1988 Al Leiter rookie error card.
J.D., Houston

In the mid- to late 1980s, errors were the rage in the hobby. Who can ever forget Billy Ripken's memorable 1989 Fleer card with the obscenity on the bat handle. Back then, card companies were still producing corrected versions. That's pretty much gone by the wayside. It looks like the error versions of Leiter's rookie card are little more than commons that sell for 50 cents plus S&H online. The corrected version brings a little more.

Dear Babe: Attached is an image of a Carl Yastrzemski trophy that I found in a second hand/antique store some years ago. It has his name misspelled "Yastremski." It measures 21x30 inches. At first, I was under the impression that it was a look-alike conversation piece, which is why I bought it. The information I am able to secure indicates that it is real and might be the first trophy he was awarded while playing Major League ball. It was given to him by television station WPRO in Providence, R.I., after being named player of the month in April 1963 by the Boston Red Sox Fan Club.
Darrell Fisher, Erie, Pa.

Forty-two years is a long time ago when it comes to trying to locate info on an item such as this. WPRO is now WPRI, and the one person who was there back in the mid-1960s didn't have any recollection of the promotion. Based on its size, we might be looking at as much as $1,500 to the right Yaz collector, according to Mike Heffner, president of Lelands.com auction house in New York, and Phil Castinetti, owner of Sportsworld-usa.com in Everett, Mass., a suburb of Boston.

Dear Babe: I have a 1984 Donruss Baseball set of autographed cards, which is missing only nine cards, including Gary Carter. I also have a 1969 Topps Baseball set, also autographed, missing about 50 cards including some stars.
David Adams, Wixom, Mich.

Obviously, the 1984 set is all but complete. "I think this one is well within the realm of percentages for being considered a signed set," said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert. "I'm surprised he hasn't finished it if he's that close. Gary Carter is easy, but it'll cost him. Hendrick has done shows, but not many. It's tough to put a price on it because of the limited number of potential buyers for it, but here goes: $2,500-$3,500 is about what I'd expect it to go for."

The 1969 set is another story. You are missing a lot of cards and many of them are going to be high-dollar items. Still many of the players you need are still alive, while others have died in the past five years or so, which means there's a chance of finding autographed 1969 cards for them. "Hodges is the toughest big name," Breeden noted. "I'd say this one would go in the $5,000-$7,500 range with the exact value depending on the quality of the big-name signatures like (Roberto) Clemente, (Mickey) Mantle, (Ted) Williams and the other HOFers."

Dear Babe: I am 94 years old and not a sports fan. I have a picture of Babe Ruth. I'm hoping you can tell me what I have based on the following description that I have drawn out. He has his back to the camera. He is leaning on a bat with his cap in his left hand. There are a lot of people in front of him. It says "The Babe Bows Out."
Laverne Garton, San Bernardino, Calif.

Whoa. If nothing else, methinks you win the award for being the oldest person to write to Da Babe. Based on your description, it sounds as if you have a copy of the Pulitzer Prize winning Nat Fein picture taken in 1948 when a frail Ruth, dying of throat cancer, was honored June 13 at Yankee Stadium as his number was retired. He died two months later. While the photo is titled "The Babe Bows Out," it does not appear that the words are printed on any of the actual Fein photos and reprints from his estate. An original photo from 1948 is worth several thousand dollars. If you have a copy - and probably an unauthorized one at that - I doubt your photo is worth much. It appears that the Fein estate is offering photos signed by the photographer via the Internet. The price tag is $3,500 with matted and frame copies offered for $3,700.

Dear Babe: In 2001, I came across a 2001 Topps Stadium Club uncut sheet. It wasn't finished. It did not have any of the gold printing on it. It does include Jeff Bagwell. I immediately had it framed.
Dale Fish, Barnesville, Ga.

As Mark Anderson of Beckett Grading Services noted in an earlier column, many uncut sheets make it to the secondary marketplace because of flaws. That's certainly the case here. The sheet is more of a novelty than a collectible. Certainly, there's no benefit in having cards trimmed out for grading if the gold printing is missing. I doubt the sheet has much value. If it's a 1991 sheet, Stadium Club's inaugural year, it might be of interest to a collector. Again, trimming cards out for grading is not a factor.

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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