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Value of Bonds' Ball Moot with Slugger Set to Return

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
September 14, 2005

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Dear Babe: I have a Barry Bonds foul ball from the last home game of 2004. It was the bottom of the ninth with two outs. He hit this line shot to me and I caught it. I believe the next pitch he reached on an error. So, if Bonds never returns to baseball, this ball would be the last foul ball he ever hit at home. I have this on videotape.
Randy Muzio, Red Bluff, Calif.

Don't get Da Babe started on Bonds, steroids, records... Bonds' return appears imminent, so all this will probably end up as food for thought. Of course, if, like the Kingston Trio's poor old Charlie on the MTA, he never returned that would lay to rest all the worries about the all-time home run title being tainted - at least for now.

Da Babe does find it interesting in this year of testing, Bonds isn't healing like he did in the old days - the days before testing.

All that aside, it's a foul ball that was followed by a ball put in play. The second ball would be the one to have if he never came back.

Then again in this day and age of Internet auctions and non-collectors driving up values, your ball - assuming Bonds does not return - might fetch $500-$1,000, said Mike Heffner, president of auction house in New York.

As I said, Bonds will more than likely return and render all this about the foul ball a moot point. On the other hand, return or not, the talk about steroids and the grand jury shouldn't be going away.

Dear Babe: I just came across what I feel is a very nice piece of baseball memorabilia. An elderly gentleman gave me an Official National League Warren Giles baseball. It was a game-used ball from the Aug. 14, 1961 game between the Milwaukee Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. I checked and the date matches. The ball was fouled out of play by Eddie Mathews and caught by the man who gave me the ball. A worker at Milwaukee's County Stadium took the ball to the dugout to get it signed by Mathews. On the ball it has "14 Aug 61" and has a printed name "Ed Mathews." This is printed and not signed in cursive.
Brad Wild, New Albin, Iowa

It is a great story, but unfortunately, Mathews' name is printed on the ball. In the end, this is just a vintage foul ball, which translates to little value. It might be worth $50, said Mike Heffner, president of auction house in New York. Even signed, it wouldn't be off the charts thanks to the fact that Mathews did many shows before his death in 2001. Bobby Mintz, vice president of operations for Houston-based, said that single-signed Mathews baseballs sell for around $250.

Dear Babe: I have a card that I cannot find a value for. It is from the 1991-1992 Fleer Pro-Visions subset. The front of the card has Michael Jordan on it, but the back of the card has Karl Malone's stats on it and is numbered No. 5 or 6. Also the stats are upside-down.
Thomas Adams, Hanover Township, Pa.

You won't find the card listed anywhere, because it is simply a wrong back printing mistake. Beckett's annual basketball guide list the Jordan Pro-Visions card (No. 2) at $3 with Malone (5) listed at just 40 cents. The six-card Pro-Visions set was inserted in first series packs. David Robinson (1), Charles Barkley (3), Patrick Ewing (4) and Magic Johnson (6) complete the set. Since, Jordan is on the front, I suspect this might be of some interest to a Malone collector rather than someone who focuses on His Airness. It really doesn't have much value.

Dear Babe: I have a 3x5 black and white snapshot of Walter Johnson taken in a Washington Senators uniform probably when he started.
Mary Rose, Great Mills, Md.

Everything depends on the quality of the photo and how much of the frame Johnson fills up. Johnson began his big league career in Washington in 1907, if it's from those early years, it could be worth as much as $500-$1,000, said Mike Heffner, president of auction house in New York. That assumes the photo is sharp and "The Big Train" dominates the photo. If it's from later in his career when photos were more plentiful, then value will drop.

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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