Ask Babe: New Ryder Cup promotional balls have higher value

Wednesday , September 05, 2012 - 3:24 PM

Babe Waxpak

Dear Babe: I have four boxes of Ryder Cup golf balls. Each box contains 12 balls in four sleeves of three balls each:

-- 1999, Oldsmobile, The Country Club, Brookline, Mass.

-- 2001 (two boxes), Oldsmobile, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England (canceled after 9/11).

-- 2002, Cadillac, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England.

-- Michael Donohue, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Babe: There seems to be little collector interest in the Ryder Cup promotional golf balls.

"These do not have that much value -- a little more than a regular golf ball," said Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com. "As far as I know, the 2001 balls are not that scarce as they are made up well before the tournament and the regular production was complete before 9/11."

The 2001 event, scheduled for The Belfry in Wishaw, Warwickshire, England, was postponed for a year after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

As you noted, a couple of years ago Leila Dunbar, a golf memorabilia expert (leiladunbaraol.com), valued the 2001 balls at $10-$20 a sleeve, which works out to $40-$80 per dozen and about $3-$6 per ball. Taking a quick look at completed eBay auctions, it looks like the value is toward the bottom of that range.

Da Babe saw a dozen 2001 balls that sold for $19 plus $13 shipping and handling. Bottom line: That’s about $3 per ball.

I also saw a couple of 1999 balls for $4 plus $3 S&H, while a sleeve of three sold for $3 plus $3.99 S&H.

Bottom line is that only a few auctions for any Ryder Cup balls got bids. The ones that sold are usually single golf balls or a sleeve of three. The 2001 dozen-ball sale was definitely the exception.

It appears that new golf balls have more value. That’s probably because buyers need them to fill out their collections.

Celtic Manor in Wales hosted the 2010 competition. Auctions results for Celtic Manor were $13 (with S&H) for a single ball, around $21 for a sleeve of three ($7 per ball) and $31.28 (about $5.20 a ball). Golf balls for this year’s Ryder Cup to be played Sept. 28-30 at Medinah Country Club in Illinois sold for around $8-$9 per ball.

Dear Babe: I am not a collector. I got these autographs when I was 11. My Uncle was George Vico. He played in the Majors in the 1940s and the Minors in the ’50s. In 1960, he was pitching batting practice for the Dodgers at the Los Angeles Coliseum. He took some of us boys (I was 11) to a Dodger-Phillies game. It was also Hollywood Stars night. He handed us each a ball from the ball bag and a pen and told us to get everyone who came out of the tunnel to sign them. There are four Hall of Famers on it, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Robin Roberts, and Walter Alston. Also James Garner, Ty Hardin and Jimmie Dodd from the Mouseketeers, as well as many other Dodger players. Gil Hodges and Duke Snider were there, but I missed them.

-- Tom Angelich, Pacific Grove, Calif.

Babe: As you note, the ball has seen better days. The condition hurts the value. "Because of the condition, it’s worth about $200-$400," said Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com). A nice ball would probably jump up a couple of hundred dollars. The fact that it’s a mix of players and Hollywood personalities also lessens demand, which in turn lowers value.

You might be almost as well off with a baseball signed by Uncle George. "Sam," as he was known, holds a special place in baseball history even though he played but two years in the Majors.

On April 20, 1948, the 24-year-old Vico made his Major League debut for the Detroit Tigers. He smacked the first pitch he saw in the Majors for a home run.

According to www.baseball-almanac.com, that’s happened just 27 times in big league history. When Vico did it, he became only the sixth player to have accomplished the feat.

(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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