We will start this piece off with a summary presented in a "good news, bad news" format that seems most appropriate for the subject.
Bad news: Earlier this summer, St. Louis Cardinals great Bob Gibson made public his plans to auction off 100 pieces of personal memorabilia collected during his Hall of Fame career and since.
Good news: On Monday, the Cardinals
announced the acquisition of four
artifacts for their
Bad news: The Cardinals had to spend over $136,000 at auction to secure the three keepsakes.
Good news: By purchasing them, the Cardinals have protected the future of these important links to their past.
new acquisitions will not be on display to the public indefinitely because there
In the meantime, the above photo will have to suffice.
Now that you get the drift, let's delve into the details.
The Cardinals proudly announced via press release their newest acquisitions, which include Gibson's 1968 Cy Young Award, Gibson's personal Hall of Fame plaque, one of Gibson's game-used gloves and Earl "Sparky" Adams' 1931 World Series Championship ring.
I am not going to go into Gibson's legacy and importance to the Cardinals franchise. Suffice it to say he is simply the best pitcher to have ever put on the uniform, a man we ranked in 2007 as the second greatest Cardinal of all time. The 1968 season was his signature campaign, making the acquisition even more important.
The team's Monday announcement helped to fill in some important blanks to a story I first introduced back on June 30th at my blog, TheCardinalNationblog.com, a companion site to this one.
In an entry entitled, "Bob Gibson: ‘Who will buy my memories?'", I related my conflicted feelings over Gibson's plan to auction off his personal mementoes, accumulated over the last fifty years.
The live auction was held on July
31 at the National Sports Collector's Convention in
Until this Monday, I knew just the basics – only a dozen items had been sold, netting over $450,000. The details of what was purchased and at what prices were released, but none of the buyers' identities were disclosed – until the Cardinals' announcement, that is.
Here are the specifics from the July auction, with the three items purchased by the Cardinals listed first:
1968 Cy Young Award
Personal Hall of Fame plaque
Game used glove
Other Gibson items
1959 contract - rookie year
1st victory game ball
1967 World Championship ring
1971 Gold Glove Award
1968 MVP Award
1981 Hall of Fame induction
All Century Team collection (7
2006 World Championship ring
Though I originally came to the realization that it is Gibson's right to sell his personal items, I still didn't like it. Something about seeing my childhood hero's spoils auctioned to the highest bidder just felt wrong. Now it seems even more a shame given how this played out.
To secure key items from Gibson's legacy for the team museum, his own organization had to compete against a convention of memorabilia hawks, paying market value plus hefty auction fees.
Why couldn't the two have worked it out without having to go to that extent?
After all, Gibson remains employed by the club as a special instructor and has often been in uniform during recent spring training camps. Ironically, one of the most recent items sold to the highest bidder in July was his 2006 championship ring.
Cardinals officials are also not above scrutiny as they represent both what is right and what is wrong with this story.
I applaud them for doing what was necessary to ensure fans for years to come will have a chance to see Gibson's Cy Young Award and the other items instead of allowing them to disappear into the collectors underground.
the same time, I remain critical of ownership for having shut down the
. Ironically, the
"temporary" closing announcement
was made exactly 365 days ago. Cardinals
promise is of a new bigger and better Museum. The problem is that its future is
tied up in the never-ending
saga. Instead of opening an
interim museum location, the team is trying to placate history-hungry fans by
displaying a tiny subset of the collection at Busch
Stadium. Ballpark Village
St. Louis having been the center of the baseball
universe during this summer's All-Star Game Week festivities, wouldn't that have
been an ideal time to share the depth of St. Louis' rich baseball past with tens
of thousands of visiting fans?
Wouldn't it have been nice to see the Museum's new acquisitions as Adam Wainwright completes his own Cy Young Award bid and during the playoffs?
Instead, there was no museum to visit in July, there still isn't one now and no one has any idea when there will be.
delays associated with even the initial phase of
means there has been no target
re-opening date established for the Museum, founded in
1968. Ballpark Village
As such, until the new Museum opens, there are no plans to display the new acquisitions announced Monday, a club official confirmed. It appears they will go into storage with the vast majority of the over-15,000 artifact collection.
If only the Cardinals had gotten together with Gibson regarding their interest in acquiring some of his memorabilia, maybe they could have reallocated some money for rent on a temporary downtown storefront to re-open the Cardinals Museum, an underappreciated gem.
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