A beginning collector usually starts by purchasing reasonably priced items that interest them. For example, they may collect brand new die cast cars, ball point pens or old postcards that can sell for a dollar or less. As your collection starts to take over your house, you realize that its time to narrow the focus of what you collect.
I like local history and decided to focus my collecting efforts on local memorabilia. I’ve narrowed it down even further to old photographs, railroad and sports memorabilia from Worcester County. Items like this that appeal to two or more groups of collectors are called cross-collectibles. For example, sports collectors and people interested in local history may both be interested in a photo of a Worcester baseball team.
Our area has a rich history in sports. The first perfect game in major league baseball took place at the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds where Becker College is now located in Worcester. John Lee Richmond was the pitcher on June 12, 1880 when his team, named the Worcesters, played Cleveland. Unfortunately, Worcester’s pro baseball team was short lived. In 1882 the team was replaced by the Philadelphia Quakers and eventually became the Phillies.
The areas love of baseball continued though. A few years later in 1886, Cornelius McGillicuddy made his pro debut. He is now more well know by his nickname and for his coaching abilities. Connie Mack, of East Brookfield, managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years appearing in 8 World Series and winning 5 of them. Jack Barry played on 5 of these World Series teams and went on to coach Holy Cross baseball for 40 years. Hall of Famer Jesse Burkett became a player manager for the Worcester Busters in the early 1900’s. As industry thrived, many local corporations sponsored teams. There were great rivalries between companies and towns in the Blackstone Valley League. Another Hall of Famer, Gabby Hartnett, played for the Millville team in that league.
Bicycle racing was extremely popular around the turn of the century. One of the greats was the Worcester Whirlwind, Major Taylor. While overcoming racial discrimination, he set many world records and won the 1899 one mile world championship.
Golf history took place locally when the First Ryder Cup came to the Worcester Country club in 1927 with the U.S. winning with a team lead by Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen. Golfing great, Bobby Jones, played in the U.S. Open there in 1925 but was defeated by Scottish golfer, Willie Macfarlane.
Mechanics Hall in Worcester held boxing matches regularly into the 1960’s. Lou Brouillard was born in Quebec but lived in the area in the 1930’s and fought at Mechanics Hall during his championship career.
There are still plenty of local sports items that turn up in local homes. What makes them more valuable? Age is important. There is less material that survived from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and it has more historical value. Larger display pieces command a premium because they are also less plentiful. The more important the athlete or team, the more collectors will want it. Some items can be worth thousands. Take another look at that baseball bat that’s been in the family for years. If you decide to sell it, you might just hit a home run!
If you have any questions about sports memorabilia or antique auctions and estate sales, call Wayne Tuiskula, Auctioneer/Appraiser at 508-612-6111 or email us today.
Our articles are published in the Webster Times, Spencer New Leader, Auburn News, Blackstone Valley Tribune, Charlton Villager, Killingly Villager, Putnam Villager, Sturbridge Villager, Thompson Villager and Woodstock Villager.