Artifacts, They Aren’t Just for Players – Fans Play Too

The baseball glove worn by a twelve year old fan in 1996 that ultimately might have changed history, was sold recently for $22,705.00 at auction. Jeffrey Maier was the young fan who attempted to catch what became a Derek Jeter homerun in Game 1 of the ALCS, and as most experts believe now, interfered with the ball in play by reaching over the wall to attempt to catch the fly ball. The Yankees tied the score of this game with that now homerun by Jeter and went on to win the game in 11 innings, and continued their run to win both the series and then the World Series.

Fan artifacts are not unknown in the sports memorabilia world, although far less common than the game-used items used by athletes that are prized by today’s collectors. Who can forget the infamous “Bartman Baseball” that Cubs fans still point to as a continuation of the curse. Cubs fan Steve Bartman’s baseball that he attempted to catch, and which incensed outfielder Moises Alou, was subsequently sold at auction for $113,000. The purchaser was none other than the Harry Caray restaurant, which first blew up the ball to end the curse, and then subsequently used its remains in a spaghetti sauce.

In the grand scheme, sales such as this do not compare to those relics that have the provenance of being hit by a certain player or worn on a particular day. Mark McGwire’s 70th homerun baseball (sold for $3.005 million), Emmitt Smith’s football carried to pass Walter Payton ($58,100), or even sold in the same sale as the Maier glove, the gloves worn by Muhammad Ali in the Sonny Liston fight ($956,000), all easily exceed these fan items in value.

What they do have is a story, and as every collector will tell you, every item that they own is unique in one form or another.