Home Artifacts Hunt Auctions hosts scintillating event during Baseball Star Week in Los Angeles

Hunt Auctions hosts scintillating event during Baseball Star Week in Los Angeles

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It was one of the most famous baseball moments in the sport’s long history, when lanky New York Giants outfielder and third baseman Bobby Thomson tossed a 0-1 fastball Ralph Branca into the field. left from Polo Grounds for a three-run home run that clinched the 1951 National League pennant.

“The Giants win the pennant!” Sportswriter Russ Hodges shouted several times as Thomson rounded the bases before jumping onto home plate and was mobbed by his Giants teammates, including Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who was on the deck when Thomson crashed. connected for the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”.

“If you’re a baseball fan or a Giants fan, that’s way up high,” says David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions.

On Tuesday in Los Angeles – where the 2022 All-Star Game will take place at Dodger Stadium – Hunt Auctions will hold a signature event at the LA Convention Center (and online): the 2022 All-Star Auction, featuring dozens of sports memorabilia items , including the pair of cleats Thomson wore when he crashed that 1951 circuit.

“One of those shoes hit home plate (at the Polo Grounds),” says Hunt, who has been in the memorabilia business for more than 30 years. “It’s such a famous story, one of those moments that will be talked about even decades from now.”

Despite inflation fears and the tumult of the past two years, the memorabilia trade continues to attract big spenders, and Hunt says prices for famous baseball artifacts “have only gone up” in value.

“What’s nice to see is the maturation of this industry,” says Hunt. “People are gaining a much better understanding of these memorabilia, especially historical pieces, almost like an asset class. The good thing is that (items) have gained ground in the general market as a phenomenal investment class.

The upcoming auction will feature considerable treasure from the Stoneham family. Charles Stoneham, then his son, Horace, owned the Giants for 57 years (1919-1976), a period that included the managerial tenure of John McGraw, and later the Mays era and the 1954 World Series title of the club. Horace Stoneham moved the Giants west to San Francisco after the 1957 season. One of the other auction items is a 1972 Giants home and away Mays uniform.

Mays’ last season with the Giants was in 1972 and he was traded to the Mets in early May of that year.

“The Stoneham family collection is very prestigious and we are honored to be part of this representation,” says Hunt. “From the point of view of authenticity, it’s the ideal, it’s the pinnacle. What you want is that first primary source. I have never had a collection with so many items.

The element of authenticity in the souvenir business has been at the heart of several past scandals within the industry. Bill Mastro of Mastro Auctions was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2012, and among the charges in the indictment was that Mastro altered the legendary Honus Wagner T206 trading card. In August 2015, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced that Mastro had been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for his role in an auction scam.

The industry has seen a recent surge in the modern card category, though Hunt says that segment has shrunk somewhat during the pandemic. However, older baseball and sports artifacts are only growing in popularity and value.

Last fall, Hunt Auctions partnered with famed auction house Christie’s for a baseball memorabilia event that generated over $15 million in sales. It’s a far cry from the industry’s earliest roots of what Hunt calls a “mall lounge environment, complete with baseball table shows.” There is nothing wrong with that. That’s where I started.

“The key part of why we got into sports is that I thought the potential growth of sports-related artifacts was much higher than a fine art category, or an obscure china category or furniture,” adds Hunt. “There are so many more people who appreciate the sport. We partnered with Christie’s and it was one of the most successful sales we’ve ever had. You walk up to 30 Rock Plaza and look up and there’s a 40 foot tall image of a Babe Ruth ball that we’re selling. It matched perfectly with a Van Gogh painting next to it.