Fans Won't Kill for O.J. Memorabilia

The card, known as the T206 Honus Wagner, has had several owners over the years, including hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

This month's sale was helped by memorabilia auction company SCP Auctions Inc.

SCP, which specializes in high-end sports memorabilia and cards, and partners with Sotheby's, also sold the Barry Bonds baseballs. It has also sold -- for $1.25 million -- the bat Babe Ruth used in 1923 to hit the first home run, ever, at Yankee Stadium.

Dan Imler, the auction company's managing director said that "sports is such a fabric of our culture" and that people can relate to these items.

He said the biggest segments of the market are vintage cards and that baseball memorabilia far outpaces any other sport.

"Baseball is really the really foundation of the market," Imler said. "Perhaps more than anything the thing we are most nostalgic about is cards."

Vintage Outsells Today's Stars

Richard Russek, president of Grey Flannel Auctions, said that several factors go into an item's value, including condition, rarity and popularity of the sports star.

One of the reasons that old baseball cards are worth so much is that few people have them.

"We all had them but all our mothers threw them out," Russek said.

Now with modern players, collectors hold on to everything assuming it will go up in value.

Russek's company specializes in vintage game-worn basketball jerseys that sell for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $90,000 and even higher.

A 1970s autographed sneaker from Julius Erving recently sold for $700. But a 1978 game-used all-star jersey worn by Dr. J. sold for $16,000.

Today's players sell jerseys themselves or give them away to charity so that there are plenty on the market. Teams are also finding new avenues to sell their jerseys.

New York-based Steiner Sports, for instance, has deals directly with the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Notre Dame to get their used equipment.

There are also plenty of sports stars who cash in on their name at sports memorabilia conventions.

Fans line up and pay for a few seconds in front of a star and a quick scribble of the pen. They can sign 1,000 or more autographs in one day.

Tristar puts on several such shows and also sells all sorts of memorabilia.

The company has a big show planned for Feb. 23 in San Francisco with Deion Sanders, Ryne Sandberg and John Elway.

Want Elway's autograph? It will cost you $175. But that's just for a signature of a photo or some other flat object. If you want that John Hancock on a football, it will cost $200. How about a helmet or jersey? That will cost $225.

How about a photo with Elway? Be prepared to pay $175.

And none of those prices include the $10 admission fee.

Then there are random knickknacks on the Web.

For instance, a ticket stub to Super Bowl XXII is on sale at eBay now for $19.95, a set of four placemats with the 1971 Nebraska football schedule is being offered for $14.99, and somebody is even selling a 1981 O.J. Simpson ad from Penthouse magazine for Dingo Boots for $3. In fact, there were more than 100 postings for Simpson items on eBay today -- several of which made joking references to his legal troubles in Las Vegas.

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