The Newark Bears is a little known outpost of professional baseball but when its equipment is auctioned off this weekend it will mark the end of a team whose nearly 100 year pedigree goes back to the old Negro League and whose uniforms have been worn by stars like Jackie Robinson, Yogi Berra and Rickey Henderson.
One of the items team owner Doug Spiel will auction off at the stadium Saturday will be the team's name in the hope that someone might revive it, such as a corporation or even a relocation to another city.
"With Casey at the bat, hope springs eternal," Spiel told ABCNews.com, referring to the baseball poem by Ernest Thayer.
The team, located in downtown Newark,N.J., has struggled for years to survive in a market that includes several other minor league teams as well as New York City's Yankees and Mets.
The previous owner Rick Cerone, a former Yankees catcher, tried to revive the Bears with a new brick stadium in 1999 and a $34 million boost from Essex County. He eventually sold his interest to Spiel and his former wife, Danielle Dronet, who were baseball and development enthusiasts. But the two failed to guide the team to success.
Last year, the team placed last in the five-team Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball. Their record was 37-63 record. With waning attendance but avoiding bankruptcy, Spiel is liquidating the Bears' gear.
The team began in 1917, eventually sharing a stadium with the Newark Eagles of the Negro League and one of its players was the Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. Berra played as a Bear.
In recent years stars like Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco and Pete Incaviglia played for the Bears while trying to prolong their careers.
Spiel said he will miss the camaraderie on the field and working with the athletes, but the experience owning the team left in "everlasting" impression on him and his 11-year old son, who Spiel says now has an "incredible" love of the sport.
The most financially valuable item in tomorrow's auction is likely the team bus, which may be worth between $215,000 and $275,000, according to Michael Korybski, junior accountant for the Newark Bears.
Otherwise, many of the items boast of historical significance over monetary value.
"The team naming rights, the uniforms: it's a part of their history," William Barron, the auctioneer, said. "A lot of people who have played here have played in Major League Baseball... It's a way for fans to get a first-hand piece of memorabilia."
The jerseys don't have the names of players like Canseco, though. They only have numbers, "just like the Yankees," Barron says.
Other items include lockers, SuperPretzel warmers, landscaping equipment like tractors and rigs, and memorabilia from the stadium, including photos of the Newark Eagles.
Called the Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium, the grounds will temporarily transform into an auction house starting at 10 a.m., with items displayed on the jumbotron.