The Price of History, Vol. IX: GOAT Edition


Who is the Greatest Of All Time? Barry Bonds’ recent assault, and that is the right word for it, on the record books left many to question whether that title still belongs to The Babe. In our estimation it does, though we can’t help but wonder what history might have meant for him if he had the opportunity to play in an integrated league. Our thoughts were turned again in this direction while perusing the latest free-for-all at Robert Edward Auctions, where a prized rookie Ruth card is currently bidding at $75,000. A few lots away is another gem: a signed 1931 card of Josh Gibson, the greatest of Negro League stars, a contemporary of Ruth, and some say his equal. Records indicate Gibson hit 75 homers in 1931. That card is going for $32,500. Make of it what you will. Some other items of note:

-1787 edition of “A Little Pretty Pocket Book” with first printed use of the term base ball): $7,000
-1871 Champion Boston Red Stockings team card: $9,000
-1937 “Rock Ora” arcade game: $18,000
-1960s-era Yankee bobblehead doll collection: $500
-1889 photograph [below] of ballplayers on the Sphinx during the trip, now celebrated in an acclaimed new book, that brought America’s game to the world: $4,000

7 comments… add one
  • This is a very interesting topic for me.
    I have always had difficulty in appreciating the “collectible” concept. The valuation of non-unique physical items tied to specific events is mystic to me. Original photographs, such as that amazing Sphinx photo, hold higher intrinsic value to me because of their singular nature. However, for example, the todo regarding the Red Sox World Series ball in play at the final out and the resolution of its final resting place illustrates to me how people lose sight of the fact it is a baseball, nothing more. It can not in any sense encapsulate the spectacular event of the Red Sox winning the series, and it is disappointing to see artificial value and, in some cases, expectation of entitlement that individuals seem to place in such mundane articles.
    That turned into a bit of a polemic. How about another. The atrocity that our nation committed (some may say continues to commit) by the systemic subjugation of people allows the relatively non-consequential debate of how Gibson and other black players would have fared playing with white players throughout the history of The Game. Gosh, what I would give to have seen Josh in a game with the Babe.
    Forget balls, hats, jerseys, cards. Look at the real factor of the people that have made the game what it was and is. Major League Baseball, perhaps more specifically, the HOF continues to amaze me in its ability to “get it wrong,” and fails to acknowledge one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors by not electing Buck O’Neil to the hall of fame this year. Heck, hold a special session. That really Pisses Me Off.
    Sheesh. Sorry YF. Your starting post for this thread really got me thinking and my post turned into a mini-rant. Way for me to blow an interesting topic out of proportion. Sorry about that. I am going to click “post” before I think too much about what I am saying and go play some golf in the sunshine tonight. I think I have been inside too long today? Maybe I need a sedative or a laxative? Have a good evening, folks.

    attackgerbil April 24, 2006, 8:57 pm
  • No need to apologize. That’s why we do this….

    YF April 24, 2006, 10:03 pm
  • Off-topic, but I am watching the Cubs-Marlins on ESPN, and whoever is the color analyst was oozing love for how Girardi was managing the 8th inning, letting his relief pitcher work through trouble, how that confidence can’t help but rub off, how he absorbed everything from the master Torre. At which point the Cubs put up 6 runs, all while Girardi stared at the field in disbelief, nobody warming, nobody ready to come in and keep his young reliever’s confidence from taking a death blow. Who’d he learn that from?

    SF April 24, 2006, 10:09 pm
  • So I went and played golf, and with my more sedated perspective (because I suck and my friend kicked my ass), let me thank you, YF, for showing me some wonderful images from days past. It is so wonderful to see The Game in history.

    attackgerbil April 25, 2006, 1:38 am
  • I was disappointed when I learned that Giardi introduced a “hair” code in Florida. My concern for Giardi was that he would have a hard time to replicate the Yankee “formula” of a rigid dress/appearnace code without the benefit of an established legacy, and that he would be talking to a bunch of players with no real incentive to toe that line. Also, I am a hippy.
    Anyway, FLA is 5-12. Let it grow, Joe.

    attackgerbil April 25, 2006, 1:55 am
  • Speaking of all-time greats, and otherwise also completely off-topic, I really enjoyed the NESN replay of the first Clemens 20-K game. I listened to the second 20-K game on the radio as it happened, and I had chills. Even though the end was inevitable s I watched last night, I still was in awe as Clemens absolutely dominated that game…
    Of course, any team with Danny Tartabull and Ivan Calderon is gonna strike out a lot.

    Paul A. April 25, 2006, 3:14 pm
  • I remember watching the first 20K game (I was 18), all the time thinking that Clemens was surely going to lose the contest despite the heroics. And then Dewey came through. I remember exactly where I was during that game, it’s one of the most vivid memories of that crazy season and, in fact, one of the most vivid memories of my personal history with the Sox.

    SF April 25, 2006, 3:48 pm

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