The big-money items from the collection were both championship rings, including the 2011 World Series Championship ring presented to Musial (above).
Musial’s team-presented 2006 National League Champion ring realized an impressive $101,575.
Heritage Auctions recently completed their annual fall, Sports Collectibles Signature Auction, to the tune of $7.7 million. Highlighting the event were items from Stan “The Man” Musial’s personal collection.
Musial, a Hall of Fame baseball player, spent his entire 22-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. His time spent in the Major Leagues spanned three decades, from 1941 to 1963. Shortly after his death in January of this year, the Musial family consigned nearly all of his personal belongings to Heritage Auctions.
The months of build up to the event included numerous media appearances by Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions, Chris Ivy, well-circulated press releases and a showcasing of several of the featured items at the annual National Sports Collectors Convention, which was held this past summer in Chicago. The collection included game-worn jerseys, pants, cleats, championship rings, team signed baseballs, personal golf clubs, ephemera, other jewelry, personal items, wardrobe pieces and many, many other items. Some of the highest realized prices, including those that sold for $50,000 or more, are detailed here.
The two big-money items from the collection were both championship rings, including the 2011 World Series Championship ring presented to Musial. He had remained an ambassador of the team long after his playing days had ended and was a treasured member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. When the gavel dropped, the 14-K gold, diamond- and ruby-encrusted ring sold for an astonishing $191,200. It became the highest-priced Musial item ever sold at auction. Coming in second, by a wide margin, was Musial’s team presented 2006 National League Champion ring, which realized a still very impressive $101,575.
A handwritten letter from legendary Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer Ty Cobb to Musial ended at $71,700.
A handwritten letter from legendary Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer Ty Cobb to Musial ended at $71,700. This figure is several times over what an autographed Ty Cobb document typical commands at auction. Several factors contributed to the large sum, most notably the content. Described in Heritage’s auction catalog as, “Arguably the greatest letter ever written from one ballplayer to another . . .” Specific content in the letter included; “Seriously now, I know well that you averaged in 6 of your last 7 years .355. Does that give you a right to be so darn modest,” and “Never change your present style of hitting.” Supported with a letter of provenance from the Musial family, as well as an LOA from the foremost autograph authentication company PSA/DNA.
The highest price paid for a Musial game-worn jersey was that of his 1955 road uniform. Autographed by Musial himself above the inscription “1955 Game Jersey.”
It came as no surprise that his home jersey, worn all of his memorable 1948 MVP season sold for $53,775.
The highest price paid for a Musial game-worn jersey was that of his 1955 road uniform. Autographed by Musial himself above the inscription “1955 Game Jersey”, the well-documented details of the jersey’s authenticity are beyond reproach and authenticated by several companies, including the leader in vintage game-used memorabilia, MEARS. The accompanying anecdote in the catalog provides an insight into the character of Musial adding to the justified price paid of $56,763:
“My feet are killing me,” American League catcher Yogi Berra complained to Musial as he stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the 12th inning of the 1955 All-Star Game. The Cardinals slugger smiled and gave him a wink. “Relax,” he ensured Berra, “I’ll have you home in a minute.” He then turned to face Red Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan, blasting his first offering deep beyond the right field wall to keep his promise. The dramatic walk-off shot stands to this day as one of the most commonly retold anecdotes in the Hall of Fame career of Stan “The Man” Musial, who sported this road grey gamer during that memorable 1955 campaign.”
In 1948, Stan Musial put together one of the most impressive seasons in Major League history that made him the unanimous winner of that year’s Most Valuable Player Award. In addition to that honor, he missed winning the league’s Triple Crown—awarded should the same player in a league leader in batting average, home runs and RBI—by a single home run. It came as no surprise that his home jersey, worn all of that season memorable season, sold for $53,775. It was however, somewhat surprising that the aforementioned 1955 road jersey sold for a higher amount. Experts believe the addition of Musial’s signature directly on the jersey itself, helped propel the piece past the 1948 sample.
The final item exceeding the lofty $50,000 price tag was a Babe Ruth single signed baseball given to Musial when he was still in the minor leagues. Despite showing obvious evidence of game use, the signature has held up very well over the years and was graded an 8/10 by PSA/DNA, which also authenticated the signature, along with fellow autograph expert, James Spence of JSA. The ball sold for an impressive $53,775.
A Babe Ruth single signed baseball given to Musial when he was still in the minor leagues sold for an impressive $53,775.
All told, more than 1,950 lots were presented, which included, thousands of individual items. When the auction ended on Nov. 9, more than $1.2 million had been bid for the items included in the treasured, Stan Musial Collection.
Other auction highlights include:
• A 2004 St. Louis Cardinals National League Championship Ring presented to Stan Musial ($38,838);
• A lot of 2,339 Stan Musial-signed checks ($36,683);
• A 1959 Stan Musial 3,200th-hit baseball ($21,510);
• A 1945-46 Stan Musial game-worn U.S. Navy baseball uniform ($16,730);
• Stan Musial’s personally owned 1948 Bowman Rookie #36 card, graded by PSA VG-EX 4 ($11,950);
• A circa-1956 Stan Musial game-used first baseman’s glove ($10,755).
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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