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Yankee Stadium Swan Song Great for Collectibles

by Sandra Lee Stuart (07/02/08).
New Stadium
New Stadium

Yankee Stadium will bid baseball fans farewell by hosting at least one last spectacle—the 2008 All-Star Game. Slated for July 15, the star-filled contest includes a popular fan festival featuring a slew of collectibles ranging from high-priced autographed items dating back decades to more modern memorabilia.

For baseball nuts, the event ranks up there with spring training and the World Series. More than 125,000 fans are expected to make the pilgrimage to Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for the DHL All-Star FanFest, which kicks off July 11 and runs through the day of the big game. The $25 to $30 entry fee provides access to baseball clinics with the pros, autograph sessions with such legends as Goose Gossage and exhibits highlighting Yankee Hometown Heroes and the History of the Negro Leagues.

With Yankee Stadium scheduled for demolition once the season ends, expect collectibles from this year’s FanFest to be chockfull of New York nostalgia. The Highland Mint has
created an “etched glass photomint” commemorating the final All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium, complete with banners listing stadium highlights since 1923.

Major League Baseball is paying tribute to its Big Apple hosts in its own unique way by adorning the city with 42, eight-and-a-half-foot tall Statues of Liberty, each emblazoned with the colors and logos of major league teams. These ”Statues on Parade are being auctioned off beginning June 30. Smaller, nine-inch versions of the statues will be available through MLB.com for $25. The fact that this year’s All-Star game is a swan song for Yankee Stadium may help these types of collectibles gain value more quickly in the years to come.

Of course, more serious collectors will also have plenty to sate their appetites at the FanFest. The event’s silent auction will feature memorabilia from the collections of former Yankee greats Ed Charles “Whitey” Ford and Thurman Munson. Munson died in a plane crash in 1979 after catching for the Yankees for ten seasons. Among the items from his collection: a New York Yankees uniform won by Munson during the 1979 season; Munson’s game-worn batting glove; and baseball letterman sweater patches from Munson’s Canton, Ohio-area high school.

The items from Hall of Famer Ford’s collection include: Ford’s 1953 player contract, listing a salary of $9,500; a ball inscribed by President John F. Kennedy to Ford; Ford’s 1961 World Series Most Valuable Player plaque; and a collection of 16 Hall-of-Fame-Member baseballs signed by legends such as Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan. The items up for auction range in value from $300 to $125,000.

Hunt Auctions is accepting absentee bids and telephone reservations through July 12 for collectors who can’t attend the auction in person.

New York City officials also have good news for those craving a piece of Yankee Stadium history. Lockers, seats and other fixtures from the House that Ruth Built will escape the wrecking crews and be made available for sale. The Yankees’ new home, being constructed adjacent to the current stadium, will open in 2009.

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