The iconic jacket worn for decades by UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s 1972-73 game-used Virginia Squires ABA road jersey, and the largest selection of players’ Championship rings ever seen in one auction lead the lineup in Grey Flannel’s 2011 Summer Games event. The May 11 auction contains 925 lots of game-worn apparel, equipment, jewelry and autographed material from some of the greatest names in professional sports.
Offered with letter of authenticity from John Wooden (1910-2010), the incomparable UCLA coach’s personal jacket would be a top prize in any collection of important basketball memorabilia. “In every educated sports fan’s eyes, John Wooden is viewed as the greatest coach of all time, in any sport. He was known as the “Wizard of Westwood” for leading UCLA to an unprecedented 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period. Besides being phenomenally successful, he was revered, loved and respected,” said Grey Flannel president Richard Russek. “The jacket in our sale is very closely associated with John Wooden. We have photos spanning decades of his career in which Mr. Wooden is seen wearing the jacket to and from games and at practices. It was obviously very meaningful to him. It’s the type of thing you would expect to see at the Smithsonian.” An autographed photo of Wooden wearing the jacket accompanies the lot, which has a reserve of $25,000.
The demand for early jerseys is greater than ever, and the May 22 auction contains an outstanding selection, led by an extremely rare 1972-73 Dr. J game-used and autographed road jersey from the ABA Virginia Squires. It comes to the sale with impeccable provenance, a photo match and JSA authentication, and is offered with a $10,000 reserve.
Another coveted memento from hardcourt history is the LA Lakers game-used road jersey Wilt Chamberlain wore in the 1968-69 playoffs (NBA Finals year). A minimum bid of $10,000 is required on this lot. Other key jerseys from LA Lakers superstars include: 1971-72 Elgin Baylor game-used road jersey (final season), $5,000 minimum; circa-1972 Jerry West game-used and autographed home jersey, $5,000; and 1982-83 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar game-used road jersey, $2,500.
A $5,000 reserve accompanies both the 1971-72 Nate Thurmond Golden State Warriors game-used and autographed road jersey (with Thurmond LOA and photo match), and a 1967-68 shooting shirt worn by Elvin Hayes during his college days with the University of Houston’s Cougars.
Two 19th-century basketball relics have been consigned to the auction. A circa-1897 leather-laced basketball with side-panel construction will open at $5,000. A similar reserve has been placed on a YMCA basketball program dated Feb. 21, 1894 and titled “Field Day Sports and Basket Ball at the Armory – YMCA vs. Soldier Lads.” It lists player rosters and identifies Dr. A.G. Courtney as referee. Courtney was a member of the 1888 Syracuse YMCA team and was an advocate of indoor athletics, winning the YMCA Championship Series in 1892 and 1893.
Boston Celtics fans have some great choices available to them, starting with a 1978 John Havlicek game-used and autographed road jersey from his final career game. Photo-matched and accompanied by a letter of provenance, it requires a $5,000 opening bid. Two treasured symbols of Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell’s 1981 season will be auctioned, including his NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award and his Celtics World Championship Player’s ring. Each has a $10,000 reserve.
The parade of Championship rings is led by the Super Bowl I player’s ring belonging to former Green Bay Packer Steve Wright. Under the guidance of legendary coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 15, 1967 to take home the first Super Bowl trophy. Wright played offensive tackle for the Packers in that landmark game. The ring to be auctioned comes directly from Wright and is accompanied by an LOA he personally signed. It will be offered with a $10,000 reserve. “To our knowledge, this marks the first time an authentic player’s ring from Super Bowl I has ever come to auction,” said Russek.
The sale will feature many other highly desirable football, baseball and basketball Championship rings, including Derek Loville’s 1998 Denver Broncos Super Bowl XXXIII player’s ring, $10,000 minimum; “Downtown” Fred Brown’s 1979 Seattle Supersonics World Championship player’s ring, $5,000; Greg Baugh’s 2004 Detroit Pistons World Championship ring, $2,500; Nick Priore’s 1976 New York Yankees American League Championship ring, $2,500; and Jimmy Plummer’s 2000 New York Mets National League Championship ring, $2,500. A second ring from Steve Wright’s career – his 1965 Green Bay Packers NFL Championship player’s ring – requires a $5,000 minimum bid.
Two game-used items associated with the immortal Roberto Clemente will be offered. Clemente’s 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates flannel vest commands a $10,000 reserve, while a 1964-67 bat graded 8.5 and with PSA/DNA authentication opens at $2,500. Commenting on the flannel vest, Russek said: “This is possibly the finest Clemente jersey ever to be auctioned. It’s from early in his career, has the year on the tail, and is in magnificent shape.”
Additional baseball highlights include a 1964 Warren Spahn Milwaukee Braves game-used and autographed flannel road jersey, $5,000; and a two items game-used by Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez: an autographed bat used to deliver career home run #521, with a $5,000 reserve; and an ALDS and ALCS 2010 post-season road jersey with GMS patch, $7,500 reserve.
A bonus section of Americana, pop culture and entertainment memorabilia has been added to the sale. Among the top lots are: Stymie Beard’s bowler hat from the Our Gang comedies, reserve $250; John Travolta’s cowboy boots from Urban Cowboy, reserve $150; and a telephone used on the classic I Love Lucy Show, with a letter of authenticity from Great American Prop & Wardrobe Co., reserve $250.
A very special historical item to be auctioned is the stag-horn walking stick with engraved silver monogram that belonged to legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. It was later given as a gift to Earp’s friend, cowboy film star Tom Mix, who in turn eventually passed it along to cameraman Dan Clark. The friendship trail continued when Clark gave the cane as a gift to renowned movie production coordinator Otto Kupp. The walking stick comes to Grey Flannel from the Estate of Otto Kupp and is offered with an opening bid of $500.
Bidding on all lots in Grey Flannel’s 2011 Summer Games sports memorabilia auction will open on Monday, April 18 and conclude on Wednesday, May 11. All forms of absentee bids will be accepted, including by phone and online through Grey Flannel's website. Printed catalogs are free to all registered bidders. The fully illustrated electronic version of the catalog is available to view online.
For more information visit greyflannelauctions.com/.