Lineup card from 2131 may be sold College ponders auction in suddenly hot market

September 28, 1996|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Encouraged by recent blockbuster sales of sports memorabilia, the owners of the umpire's lineup card used during Cal Ripken's record-breaking, 2,131st consecutive game last year are considering putting it up for sale.

Bowling Green State University, which received the card as a donation, has contacted local memorabilia auctioneer Robert "Mr. Memorabilia" Urban and is considering selling the card through him.

"Maybe we ought to strike while the iron is hot," said Clif Boutelle, spokesman for the university.

The college acquired the lineup card and other Ripken items from Larry Barnett, the home plate umpire for the game. Barnett, who lives about an hour's drive from the school, specified the material be used to establish a football scholarship.

Boutelle said the college has always intended to sell the items but was unsure of when. Barnett planned to be on campus today for a football game and will talk to college officials about the possible sale.

"Whatever they want to do with it is fine with me," Barnett said.

He said he cleared the donation with baseball officials, who would have frowned on any attempt by him to profit from the material.

Six lineup cards were created for the game, one each for the team managers and one each for Barnett, Ripken, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore. Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record in the game at Oriole Park.

Barnett's donation included untorn tickets from the Sept. 6 game and the previous one, during which Ripken matched Gehrig's record, as well as a program for the Sept. 6 game. Barnett also gave the college $25,000 for the scholarship fund.

"Maybe this is a good time to move the stuff," Barnett said.

Records were set in recent weeks when a rare Honus Wagner baseball card from 1910 was sold for $640,500 and the ball Eddie Murray hit for his 500th home run was sold for an annuity that cost about $300,000 and will pay out $500,000 over 20 years.

Urban, the auctioneer, operates a telephone bidding system to sell memorabilia. He says the Ripken material could exceed the value of the Murray ball and the Wagner card.

"It could go for $1 million or more. You've got a very valuable piece of memorabilia going on the market," said Urban, who generally receives a percentage of the sale price as compensation.

Tom Mortenson, editor of Sports Collectors Digest magazine, said he doubted the Ripken lineup card would attract that much money but acknowledged the memorabilia market has become super-heated and hard to predict.

"I couldn't see it going for more than a few thousand dollars, but I don't know. Maybe $10,000 max, unless someone were to pay an inordinate amount for the publicity value," Mortenson said.

Pub Date: 9/28/96

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