Warren Spahn mementos for sale during five-day auction
Baseball fans have a chance to buy baseballs, trophies, rings and more from Warren Spahn's collection.
By JESSE TEMPLEFS Wisconsin
Greg Spahn grew up surrounded by the kind of baseball moments that a young boy typically only dreamt about while listening to games on the radio. Then again, none of those dreamers could call one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history his father.
Greg was on hand in Milwaukee at age 12 when his father, Warren Spahn, won his 300th game against the Cubs. He was there in San Francisco at age 14 when Spahn competed against Giants pitcher Juan Marichal into the 16th inning in what would become known as the single best pitching duel in baseball history. He spent so much time around his dad, the Braves hired him to work as a ballboy, a batboy and a clubhouse attendant.
"I lived my father's career," Greg Spahn said. "He was still pitching when I was 16. There are so many highlights because he did so many incredible things. I learned at a very early age what I was seeing out on the field. I knew I was watching something special happening."
Spahn's appreciation for everything his dad accomplished led him to keep nearly every memento from a career that spanned three decades and lasted 21 seasons. Baseballs. Jerseys. Rings.
Now, Greg Spahn has decided to sell those pieces of baseball history. The 64-year-old who owns a cattle ranch in Broken Arrow, Okla., said he finally was able to gather all the hundreds of items under one roof and didn't have a way to keep them secure or maintain their condition.
He will sell off more than 400 items as part of Hunt Auctions' five-day auction, which takes place over Major League Baseball's All-Star weekend. The festivities begin Friday, July 12 and will include an appraisal fair and daily silent auctions. It will culminate with a two-day live auction at the Javits Center in New York City on Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16 at 10 a.m.
The collection includes Spahn's 1952 Boston Braves road jersey, his 1958 Milwaukee Braves NL Championship ring and Hall of Fame induction ring, 1961 Hank Aaron and 1954 Stan Musial All-Star Game used bats and a Harley Davidson bullpen motorcycle. Based on estimates, those six items alone could fetch up to $170,000.
But the crown jewel of the collection will be Spahn's 1957 Cy Young Award, which he won while pitching in Milwaukee. That season, Spahn finished 21-11 with a 2.69 earned run average and led the National League with 18 complete games.
Spahn's Cy Young Award is expected to sell for anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000, according to Hunt Auctions president David Hunt. Hunt said he has sold other Cy Young Awards in the past, including all three of Jim Palmer's Cy Young Awards. Hunt said those three each went for between $60,000 to $80,000.
"Needless to say that's the crowning achievement of Warren's career," Hunt said. "You would think that would be the leading candidate to bring the most money individually within his collection.
"But I've seen this before where four or five or six bidders get locked in a battle with certain other pieces, whether it's his Hall of Fame induction ring, or a uniform or whatever it may be and they end up giving the traditional favorites a run for their money. You really don't know. All these items are worth what somebody is willing to pay for them within the market."
Warren Spahn, who passed away in 2003 at age 82, won 363 games -- more than any other left-handed pitcher in baseball history -- and is widely regarded as one of the greatest pitchers ever. He won 20 or more games in 13 different seasons and finished second in the Cy Young voting three times in an era when only one pitcher in baseball earned the honor, which was first handed out in 1956, each season. He pitched in Milwaukee from 1953, when the Braves moved from Boston, until 1964.
Greg Spahn said there were hundreds of other items from his father that he intended to sell at a future auction. He plans on selling Warren's last car -- a 2000 Cadillac DeVille -- as well as a 1931 Model A Ford that was being kept at the ranch.
Greg Spahn, who grew up in Wauwatosa, Wis., said he still held fond memories of his time living in the Milwaukee area.
"We were always there in the summer time so we didn't have to deal with the winter weather," he said. "The people were very friendly. I got to know kids on the block that we lived on. It was always great to come back there when the season started the next year and reunite with those friends. I also remember it was some of the greatest food around."
Although there are several high-priced items in the July auction, Hunt pointed out other pieces could be sold to the average fan. Nearly 120 final-out baseballs of Spahn's victories are being sold, as are Spahn's passport and address book and a set of golf clubs.
Hunt said he anticipated several of those baseballs going for between $100-$300. And he noted it was fitting that Spahn, a 17-time All-Star, would have his items auctioned off during another All-Star weekend.
"They're just great collectables to have with the letter from the Spahn family saying this came from my father's collection," Hunt said. "It's not all about dollars and cents and getting the most you can. Some of this is truly about passing on pieces of baseball history so fans can enjoy them going forward."