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Rare Royalty: Collecting Major League Baseball’s Triple Crown Winners

by Rob Bertrand (10/01/12).

The Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera finished the season with a .330 average, 44 homers and drove in 139 runners, becoming the first Major Leaguer to win the Triple Crown in 45 years.

Baseball’s Triple Crown is perhaps the loftiest and rarest of achievements: leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs (runs batted in). Despite the game’s 150-plus-year history, it is a feat that had only been accomplished a total of 15 times, by 13 different players, prior to this season.

On Wednesday night, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera finished the season with a .330 average, 44 homers and drove in 139 runners, becoming the first Major Leaguer to win the Triple Crown in 45 years. In 1967, Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox was the last player to win the Triple Crown achieving the feat that many fans, analysts and players thought that it was an award that may never be achieved again.

The following is the complete list of players who have won baseball’s highest individual honor:

Year League Player Team Average, HR, RBI
2012 AL Miguel Cabrera DET .330, 44 HR, 139 RBI
1967 AL Carl Yastrzemski BOS .326, 44 HR, 121 RBI
1966 AL Frank Robinson BAL .316, 49 HR, 122 RBI
1956 AL Mickey Mantle NYY .353, 52 HR, 130 RBI
1947 AL Ted Williams BOS .343, 32 HR, 114 RBI
1942 AL Ted Williams BOS .356, 36 HR, 137 RBI
1937 NL Joe Medwick STL .374, 31 HR, 154 RBI
1934 AL Lou Gehrig NYY .363, 49 HR, 165 RBI
1933 AL Jimmie Foxx PHI .356, 48 HR, 163 RBI
1933 NL Chuck Klein PHI .368, 28 HR, 120 RBI
1925 NL Rogers Hornsby STL .403, 39 HR, 143 RBI
1922 NL Rogers Hornsby STL .401, 42 HR, 152 RBI
1909 AL Ty Cobb DET .377, 9 HR, 107 RBI
1901 AL Nap Lajoie PHI .426, 14 HR, 125 RBI
1887 AA Tip O’Neill STL .435, 14 HR, 123 RBI
1878 NL Paul Hines PRO .358, 4 HR, 50 RBI


Securing an autgraphed baseball from some Triple Crown winners may be costly. This Jimmie Foxx-signed baseball sold for $45,578 at auction in November of 2011.

When it comes to collecting baseball memorabilia, it is always a good idea to have a niche or theme for which to assemble a collection around. However, when it comes to collecting baseball’s Triple Crown winners, this is a pursuit that requires some pretty deep pockets. The ideal collection would consist of a game-used bat from each player. Unfortunately, this would be next to impossible because of the inclusion of pre-turn-of-the-century players Tip O’Neill and Paul Hines. Further adding to the complicity of assembling such a collection is the inclusion of dead-ball era players Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie. Game-used bats from baseball’s early and even Golden Years command quite a premium, when they can be found at all.

A more realistic endeavor would be a collection of autographed baseballs. Still a challenge, to say the least, as in my 20 years of collecting I am unaware of either a Paul Hines or Tip O’Neill autographed baseball making its way to the secondary auction. So with that said, it would be possible to accomplish a collection of Triple Crown winner signed baseballs from 1900 to the present.

A Larry “Napoleon” Lajoie baseball.

A Ty Cobb baseball.

A Rogers Hornsby baseball.

A Chuck Klein baseball.

A Lou Gehrig baseball.

A Joe Medwick baseball.

Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski and Miguel Cabrera are all relatively easy to obtain signatures without having to get a second mortgage on your house. However, below is a gallery, of signed balls from this elite club and some of the most recent, realized pricing for higher grade examples with reputable LOA’s or COA’s of the more difficult to locate players.

• Larry “Napoleon” Lajoie (April, 2011 Heritage Auctions), $26,290
• Ty Cobb (April, 2011 Heritage Auctions), $15,535
• Rogers Hornsby (November, 2011 Heritage Auctions), $3,000
• Chuck Klein (April, 2011 Heritage Auctions), $1,195
• Jimmie Foxx (November, 2011 SCP Auctions), $45,578
• Lou Gehrig (August, 2012 Heritage Auctions), $44,813
• Joe Medwick (May, 2012 Heritage Auctions), $3,107

Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.


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