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.
Mark McGwire's 70th Home-Run Ball
During the 1998 Major League Baseball season, back when home runs elicited more enthusiasm than suspicion, Mark McGwire hit 70 homers. At the time, it was massive news and a single-season record. Predictably, that 70th home-run ball went to auction, where it fetched $3 million in 1999. SCP Auctions did not handle the sale, but Imler would have loved the chance. He says baseball memorabilia (tainted by revelations of steroid use or not) tends to retain its value because of the sport's singular fan base.
"People are just very emotionally connected to the game of baseball," Imler says. "There's so many different categories of items, different things that can be collected from the game of baseball, and it's just a very, very broad and deep market."
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