Treasure: Not a million dollars – but no strike out
Correction: The company that authenticates baseball memorabilia is PSA/DNA Authentication Services (psacard.com). This story has been updated to correct the firm’s name and website address, which was incorrect in a previous version.
“What do you think these are worth?” John Trompics Jr. wrote recently in a letter to the column. But he took it one step further, adding “Tell me a million dollars!”
Baseball season may be over, but the boys of summer are perennially popular when it comes to the autographs and collectibles market. Trompics had baseball items he was curious about, and brought them to DuMouchelle’s Art Gallery and auction house where their resident expert, Jerry Anderson, took a closer look at an autographed score card dating to 1928 and an official 1933 score book from the first All-Star Game at “Comiskey Park: Baseball Palace of the World.”
“My dad was born in 1896 and lived until he was 95 years old,” he elaborated in his letter to the column asking for an appraisal. “I was offered $500 for the score card with Cobb’s name on it. Dad always said Cobb was the very best that ever played… Dad loved the game.”
Trompics Sr. was inducted into the Michigan Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 and he was the one who got Ty Cobb’s signature on the score card, which also has references to the General Motors Building, the Penobscot building, and Griswold First State Bank (19 branches!). Trompics Jr., now 88, later secured the other signatures, which include “Chas” Gehringer and Joe DiMaggio. Also featured on the card are original ads for Wright, Kay & Co. jewelers (now a popular downtown restaurant), and the former Detroit-Leland Hotel (“700 rooms with bath: rates $3.00-$7.00.”)
The blank score book for the July 6, 1933 All-Star Game includes ads for Camel and Old Gold cigarettes, Chicago’s Congress Hotel, “Ultra Stylish Suits Hand Tailored in GGG Model Shop” and “Blue Valley Butter…always a hit.” Among the many recognizable names include Gehringer, Ruth and Gehrig for the American League; Frisch, Waner and Terry for the National. Trompics says it, too, came from his dad, who may have gone to the game, although he isn’t sure.
The website baseball-almanac.com traces the first All-Star Game to a debut on July 6, 1933 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the idea of a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. It was planned to coincide with the celebration of the city’s “Century of Progress” Exposition. Babe Ruth and Charlie Gehringer were on the team for the American League; Ruth drove one into the right-field stands, the first homer in All-Star history. The American League prevailed in part on the strength of Ruth’s home run.
Anderson did some research on similar items and their auction value, and told Trompics he found an All-Star score book that had been estimated for $900-$1,500 in 2004. As for the score card, he said that Ty Cobb’s signature is a collector’s favorite, and that his signature brings about $900 at auction; $400-$500 for DiMaggio and $200 for Gehringer, for a total of about $1,500. He pointed out that some of the signatures were not original to the card as the players and dates didn’t track, but would have been added at some later point.
While Anderson couldn’t tell Trompics his items were worth a million dollars, he was happy to share some tips for their preservation. “I’d recommend that you be very careful about keeping them out of the sunlight and if you want to sell, you should get them authenticated by PSA/DNA Authentication Services (www.psacard.com). But overall, these are very nice pieces with a very good Cobb signature. We don’t see them every day.”
Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to firstname.lastname@example.org. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session.
About This Item
Item: Baseball memorabilia
Owner: John Trompics, Detroit
Value: About $900 to $1,500 each
Appraised by: Jerry Anderson, DuMouchelle’s