Hitting it out of the park: Baseball card legacy could smash records
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Florida doctor Thomas Newman died of COVID-19, he left a huge legacy for his family - a collection of around $ 20 million worth of sports cards, including a Babe Ruth card, the one could set a new world record.
It was love, not money, that drove Newman when he began his collection some 40 years ago, traveling the United States trading at conventions and keeping his cards in a safe in his Tampa home.
“He loved his paper babies,” said his widow, Nancy Newman. "He enjoys it so much."
Newman, who died in January at the age of 73, kept the collection of more than 1,000 vintage and modern baseball, soccer, and hockey trading cards mostly private outside of his immediate family and friends.
It will be shared with the world from June 21 to July 10 at an online auction on Memory Lane, California.
"It's cool for his legacy that he's put 40 years into collecting and getting recognition that was probably overdue," said his son Stewart Newman.
The jewel in the crown is a 1933 Babe Ruth card that auctioneers believe could break the world record price of $ 5.2 million set for every individual sports card in January.
It is the only known Mint 9 Babe Ruth card of its kind to be auctioned at a time when sports trading card prices have skyrocketed. The condition of the cards is rated on a scale from 1 to 10, so a 9 is almost perfect.
Newman acquired the Babe Ruth card from a dealer about 15 to 20 years ago for a fraction of its current value and turned down hundreds of offers over the years to sell it, his son said.
Other highlights include a 1916 rookie card from Babe Ruth Sporting News and a near-perfect 1952 rookie card from Mickey Mantle, which is expected to sell for approximately $ 1 million.
"There are some amazing one-of-a-kind items that we've never seen as a company that has been doing this for over 20 years," said JP Cohen, president of Memory Lane Auctions in Tustin.
Newman, who worked as a neurologist, started collecting as a boy, but his mother tossed out his cards when he went to college.
He started again in the 1980s, frequently attending sports collector conventions across the country with his son.
"I remember it was hard to get my father away so I could even have lunch or something," said Stewart Newman.
Thomas Newman and his family had a rough idea of the value of his collection, but prices have risen in recent years, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
"He wants it to be an investment in the family's future," said Nancy Newman of the decision to part with the memorabilia.
"He would probably love that. He wouldn't have asked for it, he wouldn't have drawn attention to himself ... (but) I'm sure he's looking down and very happy with what is happening to the collection." She said.
(Additional reporting by Alan Devall, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
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