Friday, February 13, 2009

140 years later Red Stockings still rule!

Feb. 13, 2009
Posted by Noah

Friday the 13th… Ooooh. Scary stuff. If you see an Axe wielding, mask-wearing murderer and hear creepy music today here’s a word of advice: Don’t go into the house! I repeat: Don’t go into the house! It’s also my daughter’s third birthday today, so if you see her coming toward you then simply shield your eyes from the unbearable cuteness…

By now most of us – at least in this business – are familiar with the story of Bernice Gallego, a Fresno area antiques dealer who stumbled across an 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball card in a shoe box in her shop – she’s actually mostly an eBay dealer these days, as most former brick-and-mortar dealers are. Anyway, she sold the card, via eBay, just yesterday – Feb. 12 – and it brought just more than $64,000. Not a bad payday for most of us. For Mrs. Gallegos, however, it’s a relative blip, considering she once hit a $250,000 jackpot on the slots in Vegas. Some gals have all the luck.

Anyway, she has maintained a great sense of humor throughout this whole thing, as evidenced by this story in today’s Fresno Bee. For our purposes, however, I once more turned to our Director of Sports, Chris Ivy, for his expert analysis. As always, I appreciate Chris being so sanguine about me bothering him.

I have to mention that we sold one of these things last May – 2008, that is – for $22,705, and from what I can tell it was in better shape than the one in Fresno. Read about it here.

HA Blog: Is the $64,000+ price ultimately paid for the card – minus Buyer’s Premium – fair?

CHRIS: Based on the condition of the card and what similar examples have sold for, the card sold for well above market. This proves how widespread exposure for auctions can lead to huge prices. In this particular case, the auction house for this item did not develop this exposure, but were the beneficiaries, along with the owner. Heritage works to develop exposure for our auctions every day through Heritage Magazine, blogs, press releases, online and trade advertisements, etc. (If you’re looking to consign some valuable collectibles, hint hint! - Noah)

HA Blog: Would it have sold for more if the economy were better – or if it was sold through a different auction company? Say one with 425,000+ registered bidder-members, and whose initials were – arbitrarily, HA?

CHRIS: It’s hard to say, I believe that the card was maximized due to the publicity that it received through the AP stories and the owner’s appearance on The Tonight show with Jay Leno. The winning bidder is part of a company that likely purchased the card at an above market price simply for the free exposure they got with the follow up stories in the mainstream press, similar to the gambling Web sites that have previously purchased grilled cheese sandwiches on eBay with the likeness of religious figures on them for tens of thousands of dollars. (Hey! That Velveeta Moses was totally worth it! – Noah)

HA Blog: Where do the 1869 Red Stockings lay in the pantheon of great baseball teams?

CHRIS: Honestly, the significance of the 1869 Red Stockings lay entirely in their pioneering status. While they were dominating for their era, there really aren’t any historians who would mention them in the same breath as the 1920s Yankees or the early 20th century Cubs, for example. There just wasn’t enough organized competition at that time to make an apples-to-apples comparison. But George and Harry Wright, both Hall of Famers in the “Pioneers” section of Cooperstown, who founded this first professional baseball team, were as essential to the development of the game as the other Wright Brothers were to aviation. So if “greatness” was calculated on the basis of historical importance as opposed to quality of play, then the 1869 Red Stockings would rank at the top.

Very nicely put. Thanks Chris!