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Championship Rings, Game-Worn Sports Memorabilia to Star in Holiday Auction

by WorthPoint Staff (12/01/10).

Wide receiver J.R. Redmond’s New England Patriots 2001 Super Bowl XXXVI player’s ring is one highlight in the 2010 Grey Flannel Holiday Auction. The minimum bid for the ring is $10,000. (Grey Flannel Auctions image)

WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Just like chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost’s icy patterns on windowpanes, Grey Flannel Holiday Auction is a sure sign that the holiday season has arrived. This year, 2010 will wrap up with a Dec. 8 Internet/absentee Holiday Auction packed with top-notch memorabilia from across the sports spectrum.

The most coveted prize in any professional sport is a championship ring. Championship jewelry in the December sale includes J.R. Redmond’s diamond-covered 2001 New England Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI player’s ring. Already a hero for the three passes he caught during the 2001 AFC East Divisional-round victory over the Raiders, Redmond further distinguished himself that year with a pivotal three-yard reception in the final minute of that year’s Super Bowl. Redmond’s catch gave New England a fresh set of downs and paved the way for the Adam Vinatieri field goal that won the Super bowl for New England. Redmond’s ring, with its original box, will open with a $10,000 bid.

A 1984 Boston Celtics Championship ring that belonged to Red Auerbach’s personal attorney, Bob Richards, is offered together with Red’s biography—signed and inscribed to Richards—and opens with minimum bid $7,500. Also included in this sale is a 2009 Yankees World Championship ring with a minimum bid of $10,000.

The world’s most popular sport—soccer—is represented by two outstanding jerseys, each game-worn by a legendary player and presented with impeccable provenance. The first of the jerseys was worn by the great Brazilian striker Pelé during his tenure with the New York Cosmos. In October of 1977, Pelé—whom many regard as the greatest footballer of all time—brought his incredible career to a close. During that month Pelé gave the jersey bearing his name, club logo and the number 10 to the consignor, who had interviewed him for a German sports magazine. Game-worn by soccer’s top scorer of all time, the jersey requires a minimum bid of $2,500.

From the same consignor comes a jersey from German superstar and two-time European Footballer of the Year Franz Beckenbauer. Known to his legion of fans as “The Kaiser,” Beckenbauer is the only player to captain three European Cup winning sides. In 1977, after serving as president of his club Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer spent four seasons with the New York Cosmos. His game-worn jersey, emblazoned with Beckenbauer’s name, number and club logo, was a gift to the consignor, who was his neighbor and good friend. The jersey comes with two LOAs from Beckenbauer—one in German and one in English. It has an opening bid of $2,500.

Thoroughbred horseracing fans can make a run for the roses as an extraordinary collection of blankets, halters and other items from a long-held collection cross the block.

“If there is a single sport where ground-floor opportunities still exist, it’s horseracing,” said Richard E. Russek, Grey Flannel Auctions’ president. “Many people don’t even know you can acquire items of the type seen in this collection, because they so seldom appear for sale. A thoroughbred horse runs in only so many races, and there are only so many blankets or halters per race. The blanket worn by a prize-winning horse is much rarer than a modern-era baseball jersey.”

The most highly revered of all equestrian memorabilia is the blanket worn by the horse that wins the Kentucky Derby. In the upcoming auction, the top horseracing lot is the blanket Big Brown wore when he won the 2008 (134th) Kentucky Derby. It opens with a $2,500 minimum bid. The white fleece blanket is adorned with a bouquet of red roses, the words “Kentucky Derby 134,” the official Kentucky Derby symbol, and an embroidered patch with the race date and the image of a jockey on his horse.

Among the more unusual lots entered in the auction is a circa-1991 baseball autographed on the sweet spot by Mickey Mantle (opening bid $1,000). Below his signature, Mantle added a colorful expression—“F***ed-up!” —referring to the fact that his pen had added a bit more ink to some of the letters in his signature than others.

Mantle spoke with far more eloquence in his final speech, which the gravely ill batting legend delivered via national television in August of 1995 from Baylor Hospital in Dallas. In his last public message, aired from coast to coast, Mantle read from a personally handwritten document, thanking his fans for their cards and flowers, and urging youngsters to avoid drugs and alcohol. He also made reference to Lou Gehrig’s courageous last speech to the Yankees nation, stating: “I said one time I didn’t know how Lou Gehrig could [be] here at home plate knowing he was going to die and say he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Now I think I know.” The poignant, handwritten speech Mantle read that day later became part of the Greer Johnson collection. Now framed together with other Mantle mementos, the speech is offered as a premier lot in Grey Flannel’s auction, with an opening bid of $5,000.

Another Yankee treasure, a rare game-worn Babe Ruth stirrup sock made of navy blue wool, dates to the late 1920s or early 1930s and retains both a white tag reading “G Ruth” and an “A.G. Spalding Bros” manufacturer’s tag. The stirrup sock is accompanied by a letter from Ralph C. Langham, in which he explains that his father, Ralph, had coached the Westchester All-Stars in the 1930s. “In that capacity, the team bought the New York Yankees uniforms that they would use as their [own] uniforms the following season,” the letter reads. Those uniforms included examples that had been worn by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. During the rationing years of World War II, Langham’s grandmother made clothing from the uniforms, but fortunately the Ruth stirrup sock survived and is cataloged in the auction with a minimum bid of $2,500.

Bidding is now open in Grey Flannel’s Holiday Auction and will close on Dec. 8, 2010. All forms of absentee bids are being accepted, including by phone and online through Grey Flannel’s Web site. Printed catalogs are free to all registered bidders. For additional information, call 631-288-7800, ext. 223; or email gfcsports@aol.com.

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