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.
Ozzie Smith's 13 Gold Gloves
Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith won the Gold Glove 13 consecutive years from 1980 to 1992. The feat, which is unlikely to be repeated, was unprecedented and sparked an unprecedented sale. The trophies went for $519,203 when "The Wizard" put them up for auction in 2012. "The hallmark of his career was his defense," Imler says. "That run of Gold Gloves is really kind of an ultimate symbol." The fact that the 15-time All-Star won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1982 made the haul significantly more valuable, according to Imler.
"Cardinals fans are very passionate, and Cardinals collectors are very passionate," he says. "So there was a lot of competition for those."