Sports News: Collecting Sports Programs

Heritage Auctions – The appeal of collecting programs from historic sporting events is not difficult to understand. Whereas game tickets also offer that all-important brush with history, programs take the collector a step further, offering a much more extensive look into the past through text and photographic imagery. From the cover art, to the team photos and scoring pages, to the various paid advertisements, few pieces of sports memorabilia are able to evoke the spirit of the era in quite the same way that a vintage sports program can.

Most popular among collectors, to the surprise of few, is the World Series program. Clearly the general rule of thumb is the older the better. The examples of programs dating to the inaugural World Series in 1903 could be counted on one hand. A couple other early Series programs are scarcer still! Some carry particular weight due to the extraordinarily historic nature of the Series. The 1919 Chicago White Sox World Series program, for example, is particularly valuable. The same can be said of the previous season’s Boston Red Sox program, marking the last taste of Championship glory for New England baseball fans until 2004. A recent Heritage Sports Collectibles auction saw tremendous World Series program fireworks, as a program for the 1908 World Series, the last time the Chicago Cubs tasted October glory, sold for $41,825!

All-Star Game programs also have a wide collecting audience, and offer a much more realistic chance at completion. Interestingly, it won’t be the 1933 inaugural game that will prove to be the biggest stumbling block for those chasing the full run. Wartime paper drives served to make the 1942 All-Star program the toughest of the bunch, with list prices double that of the next closest competitor.

Football fans should have relatively little trouble completing a Super Bowl program run, as full sets occasionally find their way into major auctions, realizing prices in the $2,000 to $3,000 range in high grade. Those collectors not as concerned with condition issues should be able to complete a set for half that range. Only the first five Super Bowls are particularly tough to find, and anything after Super Bowl X should be a relative piece of cake.

Finally we’ll take a look at programs from the world of boxing. Given the broad and varied range of the market, a collector has a great deal of latitude in finding his or her own niche. Want to complete a run of Muhammad Ali on-site programs? That will be a tough and rather expensive proposition. One of the few available examples from the famed 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire recently sold in a Heritage Sports Collectibles Signature auction for $5,019. More of an “old school” fight fan? Our April 2009 Signature auction saw a program from the famous 1908 bout in Sydney, Australia in which the controversial Jack Johnson claimed the Heavyweight Championship sell for $4,481 .

So what are you waiting for? There is a wide and exciting world of collecting opportunities out there for the enterprising hobbyist. Whether your great love is baseball, football, boxing or something else entirely, you’ll have hours of fun chasing down those rare publications, and even more fun sitting back and reading them!

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