Mazeroski bat, uniform of classic home run fame to lead auction lineup
Baseball is over for the year, but Pittsburgh's love of its past — particularly Oct. 13, 1960 — never dies.
That moment, when Bill Mazeroski hit a home run to defeat the New York Yankees in the final game of the World Series, will be the center of the 10th annual Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Auction on Nov. 9 at the plant in Kentucky.
Among the 698 items to be auctioned, 250 pieces represent the Bill Mazeroski Collection and include the uniform he wore that day and the bat that sent the ball over the head of a helpless Yogi Berra.
“There are a lot great items for sale, a game-used Babe Ruth bat, some Clemente stuff, but clearly the Mazeroski items stand out,” says David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions, the Chester County sports memorabilia firm that is the auctioneer at the event.
Anne Jewell, executive director of the museum, sees that bat and uniform as “significant” in the lore of the game.
“Any item associated with that amazing moment bypasses others in baseball history,” she says.
In a collection that includes items estimated at drawing only $100, the uniform will sell for “multiple six digits, whether that is $300,000 or $900,000, I don't know,” Hunt predicts.
Bats generally go for far less than uniforms, he says, expecting the Louisville Slugger that gave the Pittsburgh Pirates the 10-9 victory will get from $150,000 to $250,000.
When he estimates the potential hammer bids of the Mazeroski items, Hunt says: “Well, the first thing you have to do is find comparables and, for those, good luck.”
But he compares the uniform to the one pitcher Don Larsen wore in 1956 when he pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. It was auctioned in 2012 and drew $756,000.
The auction is filled with a variety of baseball-related items beyond the Maz treasures:
• Seats from Yankee Stadium and Ebbets Field (estimated to draw $1,000 to $3,000)
• Contracts for various players (estimated in the $250 to $600 range)
• Autographed balls (with estimates as high as $2,500) and other uniforms (that go to $3,000)
Hunt says he was with Mazeroski at an autograph session Downtown this past summer. He casually asked if Maz had anything he thought would be interesting to auction off.
“When Maz said he had the uniform from that day, my jaw just dropped,” Hunt says.
A verification process followed, which is done with all the items the firm auctions. It begins with photo authentication, to make sure the item matches pictures involved. That process, he says, can involve matching stitching on a uniform with threading seen in photo blowups.
One of key elements in the uniform of everyone's favorite No. 9 was the champagne stains on the jersey and pants from the celebration.
“After we have it authenticated, we then add a letter from the player so there can be no reservations,” Hunt says.
Jewell says the “authentication and credibility” of the Hunt firm make it a reliable auctioneer.
She says the museum, which gets about 250,000 visitors a year, began staging the auction a decade ago as a way of creating some excitement at a slow time after the end of the baseball year. It creates a “broader audience” and an “exciting museum,” she says.
Sometimes, the museum will auction off an item it has in an effort to get something else. She says a “spare Ty Cobb bat” once was sold in an effort to buy a Joe DiMaggio bat from the 56-game hitting streak in 1941.
Mazeroski will donate part of the auction proceeds to Pirates Charities, with the rest going to him and his family.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.