Sandy Koufax, the Dodgers’ left-handed ace and youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, may have left the mound in 1966, but his career accomplishments are far from forgotten. In Grey Flannel’s May 30 Summer Games Auction, a game-used home jersey from Koufax’s 1965 Cy Young and Championship season attracted intense bidding as it sped past its $25,000 reserve to score a $166,818 price realized, making it the top lot of the blockbuster sale.
“Koufax is one of those enduring stars whose appeal crosses generations of baseball fans,” said Grey Flannel Auctions’ president, Richard E. Russek. “He nailed just about every important honor available to a player, including two World Series MVP Awards, two Hickok Belts, Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year Award and the 1965 Cy Young Award. That, together with his Hall of Fame status, made him a living legend by the age of 30. The jersey in our sale – which was a ‘10’ in every way – vividly brought back memories of Koufax and the three-hit shutout he pitched to clinch the 1965 Series.”
A second baseball lot that garnered substantial attention was an incredible 1930 New York Yankees team-signed ball that included the vibrant signatures of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Entered with a minimum bid of $5,000, it drew a flurry of bidders who chased it all the way to a $71,557 price realized. Russek remarked that it was “the nicest 1930 Yankees team baseball [Grey Flannel] ever handled.” Originally sourced from the Yankees’ then-owner Jacob Ruppert, the ball was accompanied by a letter of provenance from a descendant of Ruppert’s companion, Miss Minnie Wyant.
An early 1930s game-used road uniform that belonged to the Washington Senators’ Hall of Famer Joe Cronin was another of the sale’s baseball highlights. The gorgeous flannel uniform handily surpassed its $5,000 reserve to settle at $40,388.
There was no shortage of bidders for Orel Hershiser’s 1988 Sport Magazine World Series MVP trophy. In 1988, Hershiser enjoyed one of the best single seasons in pitching history, winning the Cy Young Award, throwing a still-record 59 consecutive scoreless innings and winning both the NLCS and World Series MVP Awards for his World Champion Dodgers. This tremendous award, coming with a LOA from the man himself, brought a price realized of $28,298.
Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers rookie-debut uniform set a record for the highest-selling Kobe “gamer” at auction with a selling price of $115,242. “This was a popular item,” said Russek. “The uniform was from the earliest days of Bryant’s professional career, when he was quickly making a name for himself in the NBA.”
The only publicly known Jerry West NBA All-Star game-used jersey earned nearly nine times its minimum bid, achieving a remarkable $88,826. Hall of Famer Jerry West was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. The jersey was originally sourced from the West family and is unique because it has “West” on both the front and back.
The top-selling jewelry lot was Robert Parish’s 1981 Boston Celtics Championship ring. Parish made professional basketball’s history books alongside Kevin McHale and Larry Bird. Together, they formed one of the greatest front lines in NBA history. The Championship ring, offered with a LOA from Parish himself, earned $45,578.
While competition was heating up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 1989-1990 Wayne Gretzky LA Kings game-used home jersey offered was on fire. Just as “The Great One” did so many times himself, the jersey wowed onlookers, selling for an unbelievable $65,048. “Any hockey fan would consider this jersey a prize, if for no other reason, because Gretzky’s number ‘99’ is the only number ever to be retired by the NHL,” Russek said.
Among the football lots, a 1969 Larry Csonka AFL Miami Dolphins game-used and autographed home jersey took top-lot honors. “Csonka was in a class of his own,” said Russek. “He was the AFL’s number one pick in the 1968 Common Draft and was the first running back drafted in the first round. For the next five seasons, he led the Dolphins in rushing. We knew his jersey would do very well.” Opening with a $5,000 minimum bid, it garnered $27,584.
Several select lots of historic autographed ephemera were available to bidders. The immortal Hall of Famer and 12-time Gold Glove recipient Roberto Clemente’s signed final career contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, dated February 7, 1972, concluded its bidding run at $23,387.
Grey Flannel’s next major auction of sports memorabilia will be held on September 7, 2012, live at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. For additional information, please call 631-288-7800, ext. 223; or e-mail info@GreyFlannelAuctions.com.