Sunday, December 12, 2010

Most Valuable Sports Memorabilia

Canadian born James Naismith, who invented the sport of basketball, had his original notes on the rules of the game auctioned off this last week for $4.4 million. That sale makes it the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever.

Naismith typed up the rules on two pages and used it at the Y.M.C.A. Training School in Springfield, Mass. in the winter of 1891. It was to be a gentlemanly game without “shouldering, holding, pushing or striking,” where the ball “may be batted in any direction” (but not with a fist), and a “player cannot run with the ball” but “must throw it from the spot on which he catches it.”

Rob Rains, the co-author with Hellen Carpenter of “James Naismith: The Man Who Invented Basketball,” said that if the Naismith document was the original version of the rules, “it’s one of the most valuable pieces of sports memorabilia ever sold at auction.” An extensive search into its provenance revealed it as undoubtedly original.

What were the other most expensive auctioned sport items?
- Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball- $3 million
- T206 Honus Wagner tobacco card $2.35 million
- Babe Ruth's bat used to hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium $1.26 million

As a Canadian, I find it interesting that this world class game was invented by a Canadian, as was the sport of hockey by the indigenous people of our far north. Of course, for both sports the rules of the game have evolved into quite intricate tomes.