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1973 TCMA Postcards Finally Make One of the Major Guides

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
October 23, 2005

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Dear Babe: I have some 1973 TCMA cards of Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig that are postcard size (images attached). The postcards were produced by Stan Martucci of Staten Island, N.Y.
Gerry Rothermel, Walnutport, Pa.

The cards finally made a catalog. Bob Lemke, who does the bulk of the work on Krause's Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, said that the guide's brand new 2006 edition carries a listing for 1973 TCMA Stan Martucci postcards. It's a set of 16 cards. "These were a custom-order by Stan, and he has been selling sets on eBay recently," Lemke said. "We list the set at $30 in NM (near-mint condition), with 'common' Hall of Famers at $2 and Gehrig and DiMaggio at $10." Based on other material that Martucci sells, Lemke said he assumes the cards now selling on the Internet are from leftover inventory and not cards printed recently.

Dear Babe: My wife has a baseball autographed by all the members of the 1954 American League champion Cleveland Indians (Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Al Rosen, etc.). It is in excellent condition. She has had it since it was new.
Jack Francis, Gaithersburg, Md.

As always, condition is the key. An average ball should be worth $500-$1,000. However, a really nice ball in mint condition with bold signatures would be worth $1,000-$2,000, said Brian Marren, vice president of acquisitions for the auctions in Chicago, and Mike Gutierrez, owner of in Arizona. However, what looked to me like a pretty nice 1954 Cleveland baseball just sold for $312 on eBay. It came with a PSA/DNA letter of authenticity (LOA). That's definitely the low end when you consider it had an LOA.

Dear Babe: In responding to a recent question, you mentioned that both leagues used Rawlings baseballs starting in 1977, and that prior to that, the National League used Spalding baseballs going back to the 1800s. I have a team baseball signed by the N.Y. Giants in 1941 that my dad got from a player he knew, Dick Bartell. I believe he played second base. I was a 6-year-old youngster and at the game when dad got the baseball at the old Polo Grounds. It is not a Spalding, but is labeled "Reach Official League." I had always thought that in that era, National League balls were made by Reach and American League balls were Spaldings. Please clarify.
Ray Hobin, Durham, N.C.

I double-checked Dave Bushing's and Joe Phillips' Vintage Baseball guide, which shows the National League using Spalding baseballs with different stitching from 1878 until 1977 before moving to Rawlings. The A.L. used Reach baseballs from 1901 through 1974 before switching to Spalding baseballs for the 1975 and 1976 seasons. The league went to Rawlings baseballs in 1977.

As for your 1941 ball, it's worth $400-$600, said Mike Gutierrez, owner of in Arizona. The fact that it's an A.L. Reach ball is not that unusual. The ball may well have been signed in spring training where the Giants played A.L. squads and may have ended up with some Reach balls.

Dear Babe: I went to my first baseball game in July at Dodger Stadium. It was Autograph Day. J.D. Drew of the Dodgers signed my Rawlings MLB baseball.
Devin Simpson, Banning, Calif.

Your first game and autographed ball to boot. I suspect that the experience alone is worth more than the monetary value of the ball, but you can't buy anything with sentimental value. Tuff Stuff lists a ball signed by Drew at $40. I would think that's for a ball with a nice signature on the sweet spot. A signature on a side panel might not quite make it to that $40 mark.

Dear Babe: Brett Butler gave me his Bulova watch from the 1995 All-Star game. The watch is in the original Bulova box and has never been worn. His name and the date July 17, 1995, are inscribed on the back. The front has the National League insignia pennant. Butler also gave me a signed copy of his book "Field of Hope."
James Fisher, Alpharetta, Ga.

Something doesn't add up. My research shows Butler with one All-Star game appearance and that was in 1991 when the game was played in Toronto. Butler was hitless in his only time at bat. The 1995 game was played in Arlington, Texas, but I don't see Butler listed. He was with the Mets at the time. In addition, the date of that game was July 11 and not July 17. Be that as it may, Mike Heffner, president of auction house in New York, said the quality of these watches isn't as special as one might think. One for a player of Butler's stature is worth $200-$250. I don't think the book is of much value as a collectible - possibly $25 or so.

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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