This Month in Sports Collecting History - January 2017
By Mike McLeod and Marla McLeod

January 1, 1902: Michigan defeated Stanford 49-0 in the first Rose Bowl Game. A program from that inaugural gridiron event sold for $35,520 at SCP Auctions in 2003. The program included a photo of the Michigan team and its captain, “Captain White,” a diagram of the field, a scorecard, and the teams’ records for the year. Of the ten teams that played Michigan that season, not one scored a point. A total of only 14 points were scored against Stanford that year. The Rose Bowl Game program featured ads, including one on the back cover for The South Pasadena Ostrich Farm. In 2011, a 1902 program went for $11,352.50 at Heritage Auctions, and the same year, another made $22,784.96 at Lelands.

Photo Right: The program’s title page
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

January 2, 1965: The New York Jets signed Joe Namath for a record $427,000 (—soon after he quarterbacked Alabama’s loss to the Texas Longhorns 21-7 in the Orange Bowl. Despite the defeat, Namath was chosen as MVP after throwing 18 completions out of 37 attempts for 255 yards and two touchdowns (Tuscaloosa News, 1/2/65).

In 2014, MINT State sold Joe Namath’s 1965 Topps rookie card for $60,000 in a private sale. It was graded PSA MINT 9 (, 9/8/14).

Photo Right: Joe Namath’s rookie card
(Photo courtesy of

January 4, 2002: Michael Jordan scored his 30,000th point as a Washington Wizard to win against the Chicago Bulls 89-83. Over his career, he rang up a total of 32,292 points; only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928) have scored more (

In 2013, Michael Jordan’s autographed Air Jordan XII “Flu Game” shoes auctioned for $104,765 at Grey Flannel Auctions—the most paid thus far for a pair of his shoes. Worn in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, the shoes were consigned by Preston Truman, a former ball boy for the Utah Jazz who had previously met Jordan while bringing him his usual pre-game food: applesauce. Despite being sick, Jordan scored 38 points for the Chicago Bulls, winning 90-88 against the Utah Jazz (, 12/12/13).

Jordan signing his shoes for Preston Truman. (Photo courtesy of Grey Flannel Auctions)

The Flu Game shoes
(Photo courtesy of Grey Flannel Auctions)

January 8, 2016: An 1860s “Lemon Peel” leather baseball in pristine condition smacked $701.53 at Measuring about 8 inches in circumference, it was a little smaller than the 9 to 9.25 inches of a regulation baseball. With rich brown leather and heavy intertwined stitching, it auctioned in near-mint condition. Its less-than-perfectly-round shape must have created some crazy pitches.

In those early days, teams made their own balls or bought them from local merchants. The cores were usually India rubber wound with yarn and then covered with leather. The more rubber used and the tighter the yarn was wound, the “livelier” the ball. Less rubber and looser yarn yielded a “dead ball” (

Photo Right: A Lemon Peel baseball (Photo courtesy of Lelands)

January 14, 1954: Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe. She filed for divorce less than a year later. The platinum and diamond wedding ring Joe gave Marilyn auctioned for $504,000 at Profiles in History in 2011. Before that in 1999, a higher bid at Christie’s sent it off for $772,500.

A baseball signed in the 1960s by both Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe went for $191,200 in 2006. A 1992 Joe DiMaggio-signed baseball with a drawing of Marilyn by LeRoy Neiman hit $95,600. It was inscribed by DiMaggio, “To Charlie, Best Wishes, Joe DiMaggio” and by Neiman, “Marilyn on the ball, LeRoy Neiman ‘92.” Both balls auctioned at Heritage Auctions.

The Joe and Marilyn signed baseball (Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

The Neiman-drawn “Marilyn on the ball”
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

January 16, 1910: Birthday cake for pitching legend and Hall of Famer Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean. With 1,163 strikeouts and a win-loss record of 150–83, he was an All-Star four times, MLB Strikeout Leader four times and a World Series Champion. Dizzy said: “Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss?” and “Anybody who's ever had the privilege of seeing me play knows that I am the greatest pitcher in the world” (

A 1936 Dizzy Dean St. Louis Cardinal’s jersey brought $103,500 at Robert Edward Auctions in 2004. A Dizzy Dean baseball signed on the sweet spot (he usually signed the side panel) and rated PSA/DNA mint 9 smacked $24,653.70 in 2014 at Goldin Auctions.

This 1930s Dizzy Dean photo sold for $382.40 in 2015 at Heritage Auctions.
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

The Dizzy Dean sweet spot-signed ball
(Photo courtesy of Goldin Auctions)

January 17, 1942: Muhammad (Cassius Clay) Ali shares the same day of birth with Benjamin Franklin. Known for pronouncing, “I am the greatest!” He was also a great philanthropist, as well as perhaps the greatest boxer ever.

The boxing gloves worn by him and Sonny Liston in their May of 1965 rematch reaped $956,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2015. Both sets of gloves were confiscated by the boxing commissioner after Ali knocked down Liston with a so-called “phantom punch.” Some said Ali did not connect. Liston was counted out before he got up.

Photo Above: Ali’s and Liston’s signed gloves (Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

January 25, 1936: Voting for the first five inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame ended with the election of: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner (

A 1915 Cracker Jack Walter Johnson #57 card rated PSA mint 9 auctioned for $101,575 at Heritage Auctions in 2016. The auction also listed this quote from Ty Cobb about Johnson: “The first time I faced him, I watched him take that easy windup…. And then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger. We couldn't touch him. Every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ballpark.”

Photo Right: “The Big Train” Walter Johnson’s Cracker Jack card
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

January 31, 1919: In the little town of Cairo, Ga., Jackie Robinson was born, destined to break the color barrier in American baseball. His skills earned him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. He played nine years for the Brooklyn Dodgers and retired with a .311 batting average, 137 home runs and 1,518 hits.

A 1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #312 card rated PSA NM-MT 8 hit $35,850, and a signature model Hillerich & Bradsby bat that Jackie Robinson cracked in a game in his 1947 rookie season skyrocketed to $478,000, both at Heritage Auctions in 2016. Rated as PSA/DNA GU 10, Heritage listed it as the “…one and only example that has been definitively attributed to Robinson's brave and perilous 1947 debut campaign,” which ended in his winning Rookie of the Year.

Photo Above: Jackie Robinson’s cracked bat
(Both Photos courtesy of Heritage Auctions,


All uncredited photos are public domain, PD-US.



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