Working car wash after high school paid off for Merrimack reader

Dear Babe: Fresh out of high school, I worked at a car wash just a few miles from the old Boston Garden. Most of the Bruins would get their cars washed and detailed there. I got to know several of the players. Dallas Smith gave me one of his Victoriaville sticks signed by 19 members of the 1973-74 team. In addition to Smith, the signatures include Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Wayne Cashman and Derek Sanderson.

– Brian Kennedy,
Merrimack

The Boston teams of that era were loaded with names that are synonymous with Bruins excellence. The 1973-74 team lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals in six games. The Bruins won the east, while the Flyers won the west (that’s professional sports geography for you). Boston dispatched the Maple Leafs in the quarterfinals in a four-game sweep. The Bruins took care of the Blackhawks in six games in the semis before losing the Stanley Cup finals.

“Unfortunately this is not a Stanley Cup team, so the value drops to $500 to $750,” said Bill Campbell, a hockey expert and consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com).

If it were a 1969-70 stick, the season the Bruins won it all, the value would jump to around $1,200, Campbell said.

Dear Babe: I am not a collector. I got these autographs when I was 11. My uncle was George Vico, he played in the majors in the 1940s and the minors in the ’50s. In 1960, he was pitching batting practice for the Dodgers at the L.A. Coliseum.

He took some of us boys (I was 11) to a Dodgers-Phillies game. It was also Hollywood Stars night. He handed us each a ball from the ball bag and a pen and told us to get everyone who came out of the tunnel to sign them.

There are four Hall of Famers on it, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Robin Roberts and Walter Alston. Also James Garner, Ty Hardin and Jimmie Dodd from the Mouseketeers as well as many other Dodger players. Gil Hodges and Duke Snider were there, but I missed them.

– Tom Angelich,
Pacific Grove, Calif.

As you note, the ball has seen better days. The condition hurts the value. “Because of the condition, it’s worth about $200-$400,” said Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com).

A nice ball would probably jump up a couple of hundred dollars.

The fact that it’s a mix of players and Hollywood personalities also lessens demand, which in turn lowers value. You might be almost as well off with a baseball signed by Uncle George.

“Sam” as he was known holds a special place in baseball history even though he played but two years in the majors. On April 20, 1948, the 24-year-old Vico made his major league debut for the Detrioit Tigers. He smacked the first pitch he saw in the majors for a home run.

According to www.baseball-almanac.com, that’s happened just 27 times in big league history. When Vico did it, he became only the sixth player to have accomplished the feat.

Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak, Box 492397, Redding CA 96049-2397 or e-mail babewaxpak@charter.net.