Spahn's vast baseball collection hits open market
ATLANTA — Warren Spahn's son doesn't want to choose a sole heir among his five children, so he has put his father's 1957 Cy Young award on the market.
Greg Spahn, the only child to baseball's career winningest left-hander, will have more than 800 items — most of Warren's Spahn's memorabilia collection sold in 406 separate lots — at a live auction that begins Monday at the Javits Center in New York.
“I just felt like the time is right,” Greg Spahn said. “With everything that we sell, I'll split the proceeds with the kids.”
Hunt Auctions has a price range between $75,000 and $125,000 for the Cy Young Award. Other expensive items include a 1958 National League championship ring, 300th career victory ball and Spahn's personal Hall of Fame ring. The event is being held in conjunction with Tuesday's All-Star Game at Citi Field.
Greg Spahn is retired from real estate sales but said he wants extra college money for his children.
He added that his father, who died in 2003, did not want the memorabilia to become a burden. Greg Spahn, who lives on the family ranch in Broken Arrow, Okla., has moved hundreds of bats, uniforms, hats, cards, plaques and more three different times.
Gregg Spahn said he has never sold anything from the collection.
“We've had it either on display in two museums or stored in two houses, and then there's concerns like security and condition,” Spahn said. “I'm turning 65 in October, so the time is right to reintroduce my dad to the public. A lot of people don't know what all he accomplished, and some don't know much about him at all.”
Many of Warren Spahn's achievements still stand today. His 363 victories rank fifth on the career list, his 63 shutouts rank sixth and his 5,200-plus innings pitched rank eighth. He was on the NL All-Star team 14 years and won 20 games an NL-record 13 times.
After being awarded a Purple Heart and fighting in World War II, Spahn returned to baseball at the age of 25, and the following year he went 21-10 with an NL-leading 2.33 ERA for the 1947 Boston Braves.
His pitching helped Boston win the NL pennant that season, and his 21 victories and 2.68 ERA in '57 were instrumental in the Milwaukee Braves' World Series title against the Yankees.
Spahn was 44 when he retired in 1965. The Atlanta Braves have kept the Cy Young award in their hall of fame, and Greg Spahn says it will return to Turner Field if he doesn't get an acceptable price.
“I have tremendous affection for the Braves and way they've recognized my father's career,” he said. “They retired his number, they erected a statue outside the stadium and have done so much to keep his legacy alive.”
David Hunt, the president of Exton, Pa.-based Hunt Auctions, said Jim Palmer's three AL Cy Young awards averaged $75,000 in sales last year. Hunt added that Spahn's Cy Young award could be considered more exclusive because in 1957 the trophy was only given to one pitcher. Beginning in '67, Cy Young awards were given to pitchers in both leagues.
“Having been privileged to work with some of the most impressive estates in baseball — (Joe) DiMaggio, (Ted) Williams, (Whitey) Ford, to name a few — the Spahn collection isn't like anything else I've seen,” Hunt said.
Greg Spahn has not put his father's 1948 NL Championship ring and 1957 World Series championship rings and a few other personal items up for sale.
Hunt Auctions is accepting online bids for the first 406 lots until Sunday at 11 p.m. The live auction begins at 11 a.m. Monday.