Dear Babe: I have a lapel pin of Gabby Hartnett that came out of a box of Cracker Jack candy circa the 1930s.
-- Nate Hale, Redding, Calif.
Babe: As for the Cracker Jack pin, it's from the mid-1930s. The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists it at $18-$60, while www.beckett.com has it at $15-$30.
The Standard Catalog says that Cracker Jack inserted the 25-player pin set in its products around 1933. While there is no manufacturer info on the pins, the manufacturer has been identified as Button Gum Co. of Chicago. The pins are just over three-quarters of an inch in diameter. They have line drawings of a player portrait. They are unnumbered and have either blue or gray portraits with yellow or gray backgrounds. The Standard catalog lists the set at $1,600, with Lou Gehrig the most valuable at $75-$250.
Dear Babe: My wife's grandfather, Red Kress, was on numerous teams, both as player and coach. Among the items we have come across, this one proved interesting to say the least. Attached is a picture of a 1947 N.Y. Giants baseball yearbook that is signed by the players and executives. Most signed by their pictures.
-- David Frazier, Pomona, Calif.
Babe: The 1947 New York Giants compiled an 81-73 record, which was only good enough for a fourth-place finish in the National League pennant chase. The Giants' last pennant was in 1937 and they wouldn't win another until 1951, thanks to Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'round The World."
The player's weren't much to write home about. Still, Ernie Lombardi was in the final season of his Hall of Fame career as a catcher, while Johnny Mize was in the middle of his Hall of Fame playing career. It's the owner, manager and coaches that give the yearbook value. You've got manager Mel Ott and coaches Frankie Frisch, Carl Hubbell and Travis Jackson. They're all Hall of Famers. Plus owner Horace Stoneham, who is not enshrined in Cooperstown, but remains a key figure in baseball history.
"Although this team was in an era of going through winning obscurity, the value falls on the owner/coaches/manager: Ott, Stoneham, Frisch, Hubbell, Lombardi (player)," said Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com).
When you add in Mize and Jackson, Gutierrez put the signed yearbook in the $400-$550 range.
Dear Babe: I have over 50 autographs of Mike Mussina on various items, including both Yankees and Orioles caps and a ball he used to warm up for the 1999 All-Star game.
-- Jan Garrett, Warren, Pa.
Babe: Mussina will be an interesting case study when he becomes eligible for Hall of Fame ballots in a few years. He finished his 18-year career with a 270-153 mark. However, he was only 7-8 in postseason play. He was a five-time All-Star, but never won a Cy Young award.
Mussina's career spanned the autograph boom, and there is no shortage of his signature.
Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com said: "For the photo, I would value it at $2. The caps, if not game used, and just signed, are worth around $50 each. If game worn and signed, then around $150 to $200 each."
As for the ball, he said: "No big deal. A tad more than a single signed ball. So $75."
(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(at)charter.net.)