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Readers Still Sweet on 1954 Sugar Bowl Memorabilia

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
October 9, 2005

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Dear Babe: I found the letter from the co-captain of the 1954 Georgia Tech team very interesting. I was the co-captain of the dance team that entertained during halftime of the 1954 Sugar Bowl. I represented Georgia Tech and wore the team's colors. I didn't receive a watch (as did the players) but did receive a pin, a miniature Sugar Bowl, which was then the insignia of the event. I am curious about the value, other than sentimental, of the pin and several other similar gifts the Sugarettes received. We were high school students (I attended Fortier in New Orleans), who auditioned and worked after school and on weekends to prepare for the halftime show. I participated for three of my four high school years and those memories are among the best I have of those years.
Gwen McDonough White, Marietta, Ga.

Your question is the latest installment of questions on memorabilia from the 1954 Sugar Bowl. We previously heard from the co-captains of both teams involved in that game in which Georgia Tech defeated Virginia, 42-19. I can't remember another question that spawned so many varied follow-ups, especially when you consider the game was played more than a half century ago. Unfortunately, your pin isn't in the same class as the team watches, which were valued at $1,000-$1,500. Sentimental value is the order of the day for you. The pin might be worth $50 possibly $100 if it says "Sugar Bowl" on it.

Of course, the future of the Sugar Bowl, at least for 2006, is up in the air, because of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and damaged the Superdome where the game is usually played. The game's official Web site,, has a notice that says plans are temporarily on hold as an alternate site is sought.

Dear Babe: Did any T206 Honus Wagner cards have a Sovereign Cigarettes back or just the Caporal back? I saw one recently with the Sovereign back. Was it real?
Terri Maddox, Fresno, Calif.

A few years ago, Beckett was publishing a vintage card guide that had a major article by Mike Jaspersen on the existing Wagner T206 cards. At the time, he noted that most known cards had Sweet Caporal backs, while a couple were Piedmont. Most folks believe there are about 100 Wagner cards out there with half that number identified as being in circulation. A new Wagner was "discovered" in 2003 at The National card show in Atlantic City, N.J., when an older couple walked up to the Leland's booth with a battered Wagner that had never been circulated. It had belonged to the woman's father and he had carried it around in his wallet for years. I also checked with Rich Klein, Beckett's senior baseball price guide analyst. He had never heard of a T206 Wagner with a Sovereign back. I have a really nice T206 reprint set and the Wagner has a Sovereign back. I suspect that's what you saw. It says "Capital reprint" on the bottom of the back - although some folks have been known to try and trim that in an effort to pass off the reprint as an original.

Dear Babe: I have a set of gold foil stamped 1992 Classic Basketball Draft Picks in an oak box. It has two Shaquille O'Neal cards, including one that is autographed. It is No. 2,754 of 8,500. It has never been opened.
Dominick Long, Indio, Calif.

I don't think that even the folks at Classic could keep up with all their products, especially when they had the exclusive to produce O'Neal cards before he was drafted. But annual references such as Beckett's basketball guide bring order to the chaos. Beckett lists the 101-card set at $120 with the signed card valued at $80 and the other Shaq card listed at $25. That means the other 99 cards are worth $15 with Alonzo Mourning the only player of real note. Two sets sold for $64 and $67 with S&H in recent eBay auctions. Another set that started at $130 failed to get any bids. As I've mentioned before, even though it is a signed Shaq card, he's wearing his college uniform and most collectors lose interest in those cards once a player has other cards showing him in a pro uniform. On the flip side, sometimes, the college autographs are a lot more readable than autographs signed years later by a pro star, who simply scribbles something that is barely identifiable.

Dear Babe: My father is retired and has a 1957 Milwaukee Braves autographed game ball with every player's signature, including Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews and Henry Aaron.
Dale Hurlebaus, Atlanta

The Braves stunned the Yankees and the rest of the baseball world when Lew Burdette won three games and Milwaukee won the Series in seven games. There's no shortage of 1957 team-signed Braves balls, said Mike Gutierrez, owner of in Arizona. It's worth $500-$1,000.

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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