Typical fans show their devotion by wearing their favorite team's hat or a replica of their favorite player's jersey, but hard-core collectors aren't content until they've purchased original, decades-old uniforms and caps worn by the likes of Babe Ruth. Some take it even further, buying pieces of basketball courts and gloves worn by famous boxers during their most notable bouts. These trophies are not just status symbols (though they definitely are status symbols); they're proof of how much sports mean to men.
No one knows that better than David Kohler and Dan Imler, president and vice president of SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California. Since Kohler founded it in 1979, SCP has become the foremost auction house for expensive sports memorabilia. We spoke to these accomplished auctioneers about the most valuable pieces they've ever sold and the blockbusters they never got their hands on.
1909 T206 Honus Wagner Card
Don't stick this card in your bicycle spokes. A mint-condition 1909 Honus Wagner T206 card sold in 2007 for $2.8 million, a record price for a baseball card. Legend has it that the card was always rare because Wagner forced the American Tobacco Company to halt its production so that children would not buy cigarettes to get it - a noble thought. Unfortunately, the owners of the vaunted card haven't always been as upstanding as Wagner himself. After the card's condition was questioned for decades, sports memorabilia dealer and auctioneer Bill Mastro admitted publicly this year to trimming the card in the eighties so it would have sharper edges.
"There are certainly other baseball cards that are far more rare," Imler says. "But the [Wagner] card has a mystique."