Nashuan’s Splendid Splinter autographed photo worth roughly $500

Dear Babe: I have an 8-by-10-inch Navy baseball team black-and-white photo that was given to me by my father. The team included Ted Williams. It has three signatures, including Ted’s. My father was given the picture because two of his high school friends were also on the team. There is no mistaking Ted or his autograph. I believe the other two sigs are from my dad’s friends.

– Noel Dunham, Nashua

“It’s a neat photo,” said Mike Heffner, president of www.lelands.com. “It is from World War II. The photo alone is worth a couple of hundred dollars. I think that the signature is OK, but I would have to see it in person to be sure.

Even though it is an early example, it looks a little strange. If the sig is good, it is worth $500. Since it is a team photo, the other sigs really do not affect the value – no more for them and no less.”

Dear Babe: I have a 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers baseball – fully autographed. I was able to establish the year through the Sporting News and because two or three players either had signed the ball or had not signed it. While all signatures are legible, it is not in mint condition.

– Stuart Greenwald,
Middletown, N.Y.

Da Babe is always appreciative when readers help out with the legwork by checking signatures to date a baseball.

The Dodgers were pretty much the same squad with the Boys of Summer that had won pennants in 1955 and ’56 and the World Series in ’55. The ’57 squad finished third in the National league with a record of 84-70. The 1957 team was missing Hall of Fame Jackie Robinson. Brooklyn had not only traded Robinson after the 1956 season but also added insult to injury by sending him to the Giants. Robinson, who was 37, and definitely slowing down, opted to retire rather than report to the Giants.

“In really nice shape, the ball is worth about $1,500-$2,500 – more the upper value,” said Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com). “People really pay high for those last year in New York Giants and Dodgers balls.”

The value probably will drop by at least 30-40 percent for a ball that is in less than top shape, but that will be up to the experts after they take a look.

Dear Babe: I have a complete set of 1962 Topps baseball cards. On the end of the box it says, “Low Number set, Very Good/Excellent.”

– Jerry Loving,
Riverside

Back in the day, Topps released cards in series over the course of the season. There are a couple of schools of thought on why high numbered cards in the 1950s and 1960s are harder to find and therefore command a premium.

“By the time the high-numbered series released, many kids were starting to focus on the football season. These cards did not sell well and essentially ended up being produced in smaller quantities,” said Topps’ Clay Luraschi.

Your box says it is a low-numbered set, so my guess is that Lindy McDaniel, No. 522, is your highest card. The complete set went to No. 598.

Beckett’s Almanac of Baseball Cards top value for a 598-card set is $8,000. The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest has it at $7,000 for a near-mint set. I’d think the low-numbered set would be worth around two-thirds the value of the entire set. Condition is the key to any value. Of course to someone looking to put together a complete 1962 Topps, the low numbers are the low-hanging fruit, and that will affect value.

Da Babe is going to quote top values from the two guides. If the cards are just “very good” to “excellent.” the values for those cards will drop by 50 to 75 percent.

The bulk of the value is in the low numbers, Bob Gibson (530) and Willie McCovey (544) top the higher numbers. The guides put them at $120-$125. Eight rookie cards with three players each finish off the set. Those list for $40-$80.

Of course, the most valuable card in the set is No. 200, Mickey Mantle. He books at $525-$600. Roger Maris was No. 1 that year. Both guides have his card at $500. Willie Mays (300) lists for $250. Mantle’s All-Star card (471) lists for $200-$255, while a card with Mantle and Willie Mays (18) and Roberto Clemente’s card (10) book at $200 each. Lou Brock (387) is far and away the most valuable rookie card in the set, booking at $120.

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.