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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Someone you should know—Bill Huggins and Sports Memorabilia

As another guy whose Mother threw away his baseball trading cards when he left home I have often wondered what those cards would be worth now.  To have possessed many Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Duke Snider, Rodger Maris cards and many other 1950’s baseball players I have probably lost enough to send a kid through college.  Collecting baseball cards in the 50’s was something that almost every boy did back then.  This was when Major League Baseball was bigger than the NFL and football.  Afternoon World Series games were a reason to try and sneak a portable radio with earpiece into school to listen to the game during afternoon classes.  The key was to find a way to hold your hand up to your ear in a way that didn’t catch the teacher’s attention. That’s how I heard Bill Mazeroski hit his homerun to beat the Yankees in 1960 in the 7th game of their series.

So I was interested to talk with Bill Huggins recently to learn how the sports memorabilia business works.  Popular teams for memorabilia are the Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, NY Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  Obviously the Ravens and Orioles get the most value in our area.  When he told me the prices of some of those Mickey Mantle cards I could see that a lot of other Mothers did to their sons what my Mother did to my collection. Mickey Mantle cards are some to the most valuable cards that exist. A rookie Mantle card can go for thousands of dollars and one that is signed by Mickey can go for tens of thousands of dollars.

So what increased the value of a card?  The most valuable cards are rare ones in good condition. The 1909 Honus Wagner card has sold for over 2 million dollars.  Its rarity is because a tobacco company distributed it and Wagner didn’t want to encourage smoking and asked the company to stop making the card.  Cards of dead athletes also are more valuable especially around the time of their death. Cards with autographs have to be authenticated and the process is often tricky.

Bill has sold many athletes jerseys and even a gold medal. He once sold the first Ted Williams grand slam ball for $25,000. Ted will be remembered for hitting a homerun in his last at bat in the Majors. As an aside I was attending a Bowie Baysox game years ago when I happened to notice a familiar face down a few rows and suddenly realized it was Ted Williams.  For an inning or two no one seemed to notice and I began to think maybe it was someone who was a dead ringer for Williams.  Then it happened first one older fan (like myself!) than another went down to ask for an autograph.  He seemed to graciously sign a few autographs before leaving the stands.  I never did get the courage up to bother him to get my autograph.

Probably the most valuable items Bill has sold is a one of a kind card of the Washington Senator’s pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg for $25,000. To check out Bills Ebay store or click the link.

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