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Faded Yankees Ball Still Hot if Signed by Stars

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
August 31, 2005

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Dear Babe: We have an early 1960s Yankees ball with more than 25 signatures, including Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle on the sweet spot. Other sigs include Roger Maris, Tom Tresh, Tony Kubek, Frank Crosetti, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone, Steve Hamilton and Pete Mikkelsen. The ball is yellowed, and many of signatures are faded, including Maris. Berra and Mantle are bold and signed in green ink.
Lloyd Smead, Red Bluff, Calif.

That's just enough names to pin the year down to 1964. Mikkelsen and Hamilton joined the team in 1964. Yogi Berra managed the 1964 Yankees to the A.L. pennant. However, the Yanks lost the World Series in seven games to the Cardinals and Berra was fired. It looks like a '64 ball is worth $1,000-$2,000, according to Leighton Sheldon of auction house in New York.

Dear Babe: I have a book "Wrestling Stars of '50" with numerous autographs on the front and back. The book has 103 full-page pictures and 19 autographs. Some of the ones I can read are Don Arnold, Jimmy Lott, Rocco, George Dussett, Mr. Moto, Vic Christy, King Kong Kashey, Ted Christy, Dave Levin, George and Bobby Becker, Angelo Martinelli, Hal Keene and Gino Garibaldi.
Richard Deimler, Moreno Valley, Calif.

OK. Is wrestling sports or entertainment? While the premise is still the same, cable TV wrestling of today is a far cry from what it was back in the 1950s. Unfortunately, I don't think many of today's fans are history buffs, which is another way of saying there isn't a big market for wrestling autographs. If "Rocco" is Antonino Rocca, who Da Babe remembers, I think he might be the best of the lot. Of course, I also remember Mr. Moto, a classic villain for sure when we were still mad at Japan because of the war. It might be worth $50-$100, said Mike Heffner, president of auction house in New York.

Dear Babe: I have a Ty Cobb postcard (images attached). It was sent to my stepfather's dad in 1906. He and Cobb were very good friends. My stepfather's sister was a zealous stamp collector and cut the stamp off the postcard, but the card still has the postmark. I also have two 8x10 photos of Spud Chandler personally autographed to my stepfather. He and Spud were lifetime friends.
Judy Davis, Atlanta

I showed Brian Marren, vice president of acquisitions for the auctions in Chicago, a print of the image sent to me while I was at The National card show in Chicago. While the stamp collector did you no favors by hacking off what she wanted, it's the photo on the postcard that is the key, since the content is personal in nature. It's a very early shot of Cobb in uniform. That, along with his "T.R. Cobb" add up to an item worth $1,500-$2,000, Marren said. Since I was at The National, I checked with a couple of my other sources on the Chandler pictures. They agreed that they might sell for $75-$150. Chandler was a Yankee and that seems to be his only claim to fame. Of course, this assumes the photos are copies produced for signing autographs and not original studio prints, which would be worth a lot more.

BABE NOTE: As promised, MastroNet Auctions has published its second vintage guide - "A Portrait of Baseball Photography" by Marshall Fogel, Khyber Oser and Henry Yee. It's billed as "The Definitive History of our Pastime's Pictures, News Services and Photographers." And that's exactly what you get. The guide has information on collecting photos, the news services that produced them and the photographers who took the picture. The guide notes that photography seems to be on the verge of the next big push for collectible items. The guide is available from MastroNet for $25, which includes S&H. For $35, you can get the photo guide and the game-used bat guide compiled by Dave Bushing and Dan Knoll. Just visit or write to 10S660 Kingery Hgy., Willowbrook, IL 60527. Just let 'em know you saw it here.

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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