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.
Barry Bonds' 756th Home-Run Ball
Barry Bonds's 756th home-run ball was purchased for almost $756,000 in 2007 by the designer Marc Ecko, who branded it with an asterisk. The astronomical price was fairly surprising, given that Bonds's steroid regimen and criminal behavior didn't increase his stock with baseball fans. "With the environment or climate today, that probably would not bring that kind of money," Kohler says. Still, the 756th home run – which pushed Bonds past Hank Aaron, making him the all-time leader – holds significance for some fans, even if it is an artifact of a complicated era. That's why the ball is on exhibit at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
"It still goes back to the history of the game," Kohler says. "Records, stats. They're a big part of baseball."