Head to Fenway Park to Buy Ted Williams' Silver Bat -- or His Old Sneakers

Saul WisniaGuest ColumnistApril 27, 2012

This too could be yours.
This too could be yours.

Ever wonder whether you should throw out that beat up, old wallet or tackle box? Is your wife (sorry ladies, it is usually you) on your case to chuck that old Hawaiian shirt? And what about all those old canceled checks? Surely they should be shredded rather than saved.

Not so fast. If you go on to win six batting titles, become a war hero or spend your retirement as one of the world's most decorated fishermen philanthropists, this stuff could really escalate in value. If you don't believe me, just head over to Fenway Park today and take a look at what they think Ted Williams' old high-top sneakers are worth.

Yes, just when you thought the historic hoopla was over at Fenway, there is yet another reason besides the next Red Sox home game to visit baseball's most beloved ballpark. The Ted Williams collection private auction is being held this weekend, and even if you don't have $10,000-20,000 to drop on his Winchester rifle with "TED" emblazoned on the trigger card, you can still stop by Fenway to take a close look at the Splendid Splinter's stuff as it goes up for bidding.

You name it, they've got it. His traveling suitcase from his stint managing the Washington Senators. His fishing reels, flies and hunting knives. Every baseball, fishing, hunting or military award you can think of, in many cases personalized and with a photo of him receiving it. Scrapbooks dating back to his childhood. Monogrammed wallets and cuff links. His coin collection. Many, many autographed photos, jerseys, balls and canceled checks.

A few items stand out. The silver bat Williams received for leading the American League with a .388 average in 1957 is expected to fetch between $100,000 and $200,000, and his 1949 MVP award another should go for $150,000 to $250,000. The coolest and most historically fascinating item of the 800 up for bid might be a baseball inscribed, "To my pal, Ted Williams, From Babe Ruth." That can be yours for an estimated $100,000 to $200,000. Take a look at these and other items at: http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/2012/ted_williams_memorabilia_at_auction/

Williams cherished this Babe-signed ball.
Williams cherished this Babe-signed ball.

I admit, when I took my first glance through the glossy 297-page book of available auction items, it all seemed a bit ghoulish to me. Why didn't his daughter, Cynthia, want to hang on to some of it and give the rest to Cooperstown and other Halls of Fame? Then I read her beautiful letter from the front of the book, and I realized I was being short-sighted.

First of all, Claudia is donating some of the proceeds to The Jimmy Fund of Dana-Farber Cancer to support cancer research and care—Ted's favorite charity. Secondly, she mentions in her letter that this auction was Ted's idea. What a person chooses to do with their stuff is up to them.

The auction itself will be held Saturday and Sunday, and is open to the public. If you want a look at the artifacts from a fascinating life, head on down to Fenway.

Saul Wisnia lives less than seven miles from Fenway Park and works 300 yards from Yawkey Way. His latest book, Fenway Park: The Centennial, is available atamazon.com and his Red Sox reflections can be found at http://saulwisnia.blogspot.com/. You can reach him at saulwizz@gmail.com or @saulwizz.