Ask Babe: Valuing Olympic baseball poster, T-shirt and more

Friday , May 18, 2012 - 4:40 PM

Babe Waxpak

Dear Babe: Years ago, before the kids used up all of my hard-earned money, I attended quite a few small baseball card shows in Orange County, Calif. One of the things hanging on my 15-year-old's bedroom wall is a picture of the 1988 U.S. Olympic baseball team. It is signed by every player. I think most of them went on to play in (Major League Baseball). The three most notable players on that team are Jim Abbott, Andy Benes and Robin Ventura. Some of the other players are Charles Nagy, Tino Martinez, Tom Goodwin, Ben McDonald, Ed Sprague and Mickey Morandini. It is approximately 28 inches-by-22 inches.

-- Brad Hornsby, Corona, Calif.

Babe: "These things are all over eBay with no buyers at prices as low as $80 and as high as $500," said Mike Breeden, a Sports Collectors Digest columnist and autograph expert.

"It's a nice piece, but it lacks the superstar player that would keep it relevant in the minds of collectors. Now that baseball has been eliminated as an Olympic sport, it's doubtful that there will be any great interest in this piece going forward."

The team was loaded with future big-league players.

Abbott is the inspirational player who made it to the majors despite being born without a right hand. His book "Imperfect. An Improbable Life," just hit bookstores. (Da Babe just finished it. It's a good read.)

Ventura is a first-year manager with the Chicago White Sox.

Sprague played 11 years in the majors, which included World Series wins with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.



Martinez won titles with the New York Yankees.

Benes was 155-139 in 14 years in the majors.

Morandini is best known for having pulled off an unassisted triple play -- among the rarest feats in baseball. Josh Hamilton just became the 16th player to hit four homers in a game. Only 15 unassisted triples players have been recorded.

Dear Babe: I have a 1980 Moscow Olympics T-shirt that depicts USA runners and has the NBC Sports logo under it.

-- Joe Voigt, Hope Hull, Ala.

Babe: By 1980, the Olympics were becoming big business. Items related to the event such as pins, T-shirts and even U.S. postage stamps were being produced in pretty large numbers. I suspect this is true for material cranked out by NBC, thanks to its having the contract to televise the event. While our athletes couldn't participate, the ban had little effect on the mass production of "ready-to-wear collectibles" in advance of the boycott's announcement -- especially for sponsors and NBC.

"It's a neat conversation piece, but it does not have much value -- maybe $25," said Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com.

Babe note: The Olympics are just a couple of months away and the 2012 Topps Olympic product, featuring Olympians and hopefuls, is on hobby store shelves. Naturally, Michael Phelps is the poster boy. There's a modest 100-card base set with -- appropriately -- gold, silver and bronze parallel sets. Then there's a wide-ranging array of inserts, including flag patch cards, pin and relic cards along with a host of autographed cards, with Phelps topping that list. For complete details, visit my blog at www.scrippsnews.com/blogs/waxpak.

(Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak, Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397 or email babewaxpak@charter.net.)

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