Jon Teitel attended the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore last August. This is the seventh installment in his photo essay about the dealers he interviewed and the stories of the college basketball memorabilia that they were offering for sale and/ or auction. We will be presenting this in installments over the next several months.
Sports card and memorabilia collecting has made a huge evolution over time, for better or worse. Many adults have fond childhood memories of buying packs of cards that had bubble gum inside and then placing the cards into the spokes of their bicycles. However, in the 21st century collectors have locked up their valuable treasures in a “look but don’t touch” philosophy as the friendly pastime has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.
I got to speak to Rusty Purdy of FRP Sports (www.frpsports.com), who is a huge collector (and dealer) of Kentucky basketball memorabilia. He had several amazing pieces that will catch the eye of any resident of Big Blue Nation:
First, a basketball autographed by the original “Fab 5” from the 1948 NCAA title team that went on to win an Olympic gold medal a few months later. The five players were Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Cliff Barker and Kenny Rollins. Groza was coach of the ABA’s San Diego Conquistadors back in the 1970s, and a car dealer flew him and his teammates out to Kentucky for an autograph signing. Groza and Beard joined the Indianapolis Olympians in 1949, but were banned from the NBA for life in 1951 after being implicated in a point-shaving scandal during their final season in college. This one-of-a-kind item was on sale for $2500.
Next, a basketball autographed by the 1998 NCAA title team (led by first-year coach Tubby Smith), on sale for $750.
Also for sale was a piece of hardwood autographed by 2012 NCAA player of the year Anthony Davis, on sale for $50.
Last, a photo autographed by the 2012 NCAA title team (including Davis), on sale for $100.