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Santa Anita Layoff for WWII was Testy

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

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Dear Babe: I have a coupon book from the 1944-45 season for the Santa Anita horse racing season in Southern California. There are 55 coupons. It looks like a full packet.
Clifford Skajem, Riverside

Da Babe loves history. The coupon book itself is not worth very much. Dick Hering of www.tbredhorseracing.tripod.com in North Carolina valued it at $5-$10, while David Kohler, president of SCPAuctions.com in Laguna Hills, Callif., thought it might bring $25-$50. However, the story of Santa Anita back then is interesting. More than likely the reason you have a complete book is that there was no racing at the track because of World War II. Racing resumed in May 1945 for a special 40-day summer schedule before returning to the traditional winter/spring meeting later in the year. Earlier in the war, Santa Anita had been designated as an assembly center for Japanese-Americans en route to internment camps. That went on for seven months in 1942 - March to October. Further into the war, it became an Army base with part of the track paved to test military vehicles.

Dear Babe: I have a few cards that I would like to know about. I have a Topps "Lou Brock Swipes a Series Record 7th Stolen Base." It doesn't have a number. I also have a Roberto Alomar 1992 Upper Deck card (No. T11) and an Upper Deck Ted Williams/Joe DiMaggio Upper Deck Rivals card (23) from 2004.
Michael Taylor, Nashua, N.H.

The Williams/DiMaggio card is from a special boxed set that Upper Deck produced commemorating the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry. I saw a couple of these that sold for around $3-$5 with S&H in online auctions. Since these came out of boxed sets, you won't see a lot of singles out there. The Brock card should be WSLB. It's a 2004 Topps insert card that is worth a dollar. The 1992 Alomar card lists for 75 cents to $1.25.

Dear Babe: Many years ago in San Francisco, I stopped in at Joe DiMaggio's restaurant when he was there. They had just changed menus and the waitress was kind enough to give me an old menu that DiMaggio signed.
Bill Muir, Yucaipa, Calif.

Although he died more than six years ago in March 1999, there's still no shortage of DiMaggio-signed items out there. "I'd put this at $75-$100 unless it's a nice vintage signature that can be made into a cut. Then I'd double it," said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert.

Dear Babe: I have a 1962 San Francisco Giants yearbook with the autographs of Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda as well as Felipe Alou. It is in mint condition. Does it have greater value with the four Hall of Famers?
Maris Pantels, Smyrna, Ga.

I assume your question about the HOFers is another way of asking if Alou hurts the value. Steve Grad of PSA/DNA said that having Alou is of no consequence. "I see plenty of items come in like that," Grad said. Actually, you'd need Gaylord Perry instead of Alou to have a cover signed by all the HOFers on that team, said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert. Grad and Breeden valued the signed program in the $75-$200 range.

Dear Babe: I have a postcard signed by Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis when they were in Venezuela for the Kenny Norton-George Foreman fight. They signed the card on the back, and the signatures do not overlap. The front of the card has a picture of the Caracas Hilton.
Kay Green Elliott, Ellenwood, Ga.

"The Joe Louis signature should be a minimum of $250 alone. Add the Ali and it should bring the item up to at least $350," said James Spence, an authenticator and owner of Spenceloa.com in Pennsylvania.

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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