April 27, 2012

"Buckner Ball" Headlines Spectacular Auction


One of my favorite people to talk to in the world is Seth Swirsky.  So, naturally, when I saw that he was partnering with Heritage Auctions and putting his entire baseball memorabilia collection (save one item…more on that below) up for sale, I had to reach out to him.

First, about that auction.  But, where to start?

From jerseys to baseballs.  Handwritten letters to game used bats…Swirsky’s 236 piece auction is full of everything.  There’s a ball signed by both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  The home run ball from Reggie Jackson’s 1971 All-Star Game moonshot.  There’s even one those hideous, collared Chicago White Sox jerseys.

Oh, and, of course, the (in)famous “Buckner Ball”.

I had a chance to catch up with Swirsky and talk about the auction.

HOVG:  I’m not even going to ask you why you’re auctioning off your collection.  The first thing I want to know is this…what was the reaction from your friends and family when you announced that you were selling your stuff?

SWIRSKY:  They were very supportive. As supportive as when I start projects, they were as supportive as I finished this one. 

HOVG:  We’ve all seen the stories.  Everyone used to write about the “Buckner Ball”, but now…it’s all about the Jose Canseco “Home Run Header” cap.  Seth, when people visit the house and look at your collection…what was the most popular piece to your collection?

SWIRSKY: Everyone loved the ball all four Beatles signed the night they played the famous Shea Stadium concert in August 1965. Obviously, the “Buckner Ball” drew a few gasps as did Reggie Jackson's third home run from Game Six of the 1977 World Series. I tried to collect pieces that told stories (and elicit a few gasps!).

HOVG:  Is there a piece you’re going to miss more than another?

SWIRSKY: I love the letter that Babe Ruth wrote when he retired. He gave a young boy some advice: not to take money for things from his parents. To work for things. he wrote, "the most successful men I know started as poor boys". It shows what a true Horatio Algier, rags-to-riches, uniquely American story Babe Ruth's story was.  He came from nothing and became the most famous man in the world and one of the most beloved. I enjoyed sharing his great advice with my three children.

HOVG:  What do you think is going to fetch the most money? 

SWIRSKY: Possibly the letter written by Kenesaw Mountain Landis to Shoeless Joe Jackson telling him that he won't be reconsidered for reinstatement into baseball because of his “throwing of the World Series of 1919”. An incredibly historic baseball artifact.

HOVG:  Of all the 236 pieces up for auction, is there one item that you’d consider a “hidden gem”?  Personally, I like the handwritten pieces…the letters, notes, Pete Rose’s “black book”.

SWIRSKY: The 1912 check written to Boston Red Sox manager Jake Stahl when the Sox won the Series that year. It comes with a Boston newspaper that shows the actual $88,000 check. (It’s) an amazing piece of baseball history and extremely undervalued at this point. We're talking about the World Series check from one of the storied franchises in the history of the game.

HOVG:  Be honest, Seth…you’re keeping something, right?

SWIRSKY: My 1969 Topps set of cards. They were the cards I collected as a nine-year-old. They aren't about value; they're about memories.

HOVG:  I feel the same way about my 1983 Topps set.  I was also nine.  It isn’t complete, but it’s about as close as I could get before the next season’s cards came out.

Seth Swirsky is an American pop music songwriter, recording artist, author, filmmaker and, obviously, a memorabilia collector. His music credits include working with the likes of Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Air Supply, Michael McDonald and Al Green.

Most recently, he has recorded with The Red Button alongside Mike Ruekberg. Their second album “As Far As Yesterday Goes” was released in 2011 to critical acclaim.

Swirsky’s three books "Baseball Letters: A Fan's Correspondence With His Heroes", "Every Pitcher Tells A Story: Letters Gathered by a Devoted Fan" and "Something to Write Home About: Great Baseball Memories in Letters to a Fan" are half of the books I’ve read in the last two years.


1 comment:

The OCP said...

This is a truly awesome collection of baseball history...