Fans willing to pay top dollar for sports memorabilia

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Sports memorabilia and collectibles have become big business over the past couple of decades. Stores across the country specialize in nothing but sports merchandise. Fans can’t seem to get enough of these types of items, and they’re willing to pay top dollar to prove it.

Last Saturday night (June 28), I attended a silent auction that was part of a fund-raiser for a local politician. I was thoroughly impressed with the tremendous number of sports collectibles they had on display and available for auction. There was everything from an autographed poster-size photo of baseball Hall of Famer Ron Santo to a miniature Chicago Blackhawks hockey helmet signed by Duncan Keith and almost everything else imaginable in between.

One of the things that was most impressive is how many of the items were autographed and authenticated. Gayle Sayers, Mike Singletary, Joakim Noah, Jack Nicklaus, Patrick Sharp, Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Urlacher and Danica Patrick were some of the athletes who had their signatures on a variety of items up for bid.

Over the years, I’ve attended dozens of these types of fund-raisers, but never do I recall such an impressive collection of sports items as was on display at this event. The variety and number of items surpassed anything I’ve ever seen before.

The autographed Blackhawks jerseys were drawing bids in the $200 to $300 range. The Nicklaus autographed golf flag brought a winning bid of $225. A retro-style white “C” logo on the plain black helmet that the Bears wore back in the 1960s signed in silver magic marker by Sayers sold for $295. A felt-style banner commemorating the 100-year anniversary of Wrigley Field wasn’t even autographed by any current or former players, and I still think it went for $75 or more. People were willing to pay top dollar for many of the items and weren’t about to be outbid to get something they had their hearts set on.

Kudos to whomever was able to gather such a variety of items and have them available here in town for this event. I’m sure it went a long way in helping to make the night the success it was.

From the July 2-8, 2014, issue

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