November 15, 2010, - 11:21 pm

Why Would You Buy Someone Else’s Trophies?

By Debbie Schlussel

I like to collect stuff.  I collect way too much stuff, despite the fact that I don’t really have room for it (and am trying to downsize and get rid of some of it).  So, I understand those who collect coins, stamps, historical documents, etc.  What I don’t understand is those who collect and buy someone else’s sports trophies.  Why?

Kirk Gibson Winning the World Series w/ the Detroit Tigers: Why Would You Want His Trophies?

Over the weekend, an online auction of Detroit Tiger baseball great Kirk Gibson’s prized memorabilia ended.  Gibson, who auctioned the items for his charitable foundation, said he worried his stuff might one day end up destroyed by fire.  So, I guess he decided to give that worry to someone else and parted with his stuff, netting $1.2 million for the stuff. Almost all of his things put up for auction–a prized bat he used to hit a home run in Game 1 of the 1988 world series (which went for $575,912.40), his MVP plaque, his 1988 World Series players’ trophy, and his road uniform–were bought up by a father and son in California.  They paid $153,388.80 for a helmet Gibson wore hitting the World Series home run.

Can they really ever recoup what they paid?  Is it really worth that much?  During the same auction, the late Ty Cobb’s bat sold for only $75,330.  (FYI, I grew up right near Ty Cobb’s home, the one in which he lived when he played for the Tigers.)  What did they get out of it?

If they were buying it as an investment to flip for more money, I can see it.  But apparently, they weren’t.  The father and son, Chad and Doug Dreier of Santa Barbara are fans and wanted this stuff for their collection.

But here’s what I don’t understand:  they didn’t earn these trophies or wear these uniforms.  Kirk Gibson did.  I have the same thought as I do of a friend who bought and now wears a Brooklyn World Series championship ring:

You didn’t win it.  You didn’t earn it.  So, it’s weird to me that  you get enjoyment out of it. The only trophies I want on my mantle are the ones I won. Buying someone else’s trophies doesn’t buy you their talent or their accomplishments. It only buys you empty mementos, whose intrinsic value is exclusively that of the person who earned them.

Beautiful things are a different story.  Stamps, coins, jewelry–they all have beauty in them, different designs, pictures, colors, shapes.  And there is probably some good resale value in it, if you chose right in your collection. And I collect Jewish U.S. military memorabilia, including dogs tags, but for a specific reason: I am confronted by so many anti-Semites who do not know the bravery and contributions of Jewish men in building and securing America, and I want to make it into an exhibit or book of some sort.

But Kirk Gibson’s trophies?  You didn’t win them, so how can you really enjoy owning them?  Again, I don’t get it.  It reminds me of J. Peterman buying Kramer’s life stories on “Seinfeld.”  But, at least, he bought those memories and experiences he didn’t personally have, for catalog material.

Would you buy sports trophies someone else earned?  Why?  What do you get out of it?  Again, if it’s as an investment, I get that.  If it isn’t, why?

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22 Responses

At least the money that these fools blew will go to a charity in this case.

Walter on November 15, 2010 at 11:50 pm

I remember old Kirk Gibson. Used to love baseball at one time. Now I just love tennis.

I just read that actor Corbin Bernsen collects snowglobes?????? I thought it was so strange…and liked it because it was so bloody strange.

I love to collect, but I am gonna downsize too. Less is more.

(OT…I just read that Dr. Laura got a tattoo. I am so confused…I really like DL…she changed my life but isn’t she Jewish….and orthodox? I like her tattoo, but I thought they were verboten in the Jewish faith? Even thou I love tattoos I have sorta adopted the Jewish mentality that is is best not to get one. Isn’t she worried where she will be buried?

Have no idea how she will explain this. She is so stringent in her beliefs and I just don’t get this. Like hers thou’. Not girly and prissy!)

S: Dr. Laura (who is no Doctor, unless a Ph.D. in physiology makes you a doc, and it doesn’t) left Judaism. Can’t answer for her and the castrated “men” in her life. DS

Skunky on November 15, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Wow. Thanks for that info on DL. I am shocked. I remember when she converted and then went on further to become orthodox. I should have known…I recently heard her speaking about eating a cheeseburger.

    Skunky on November 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Miss Schlussel, Et Alii:

I’m not a sports fan, but I agree with your opinion about the inappropriateness of displaying someone else’s trophies.

When I was in Viet Nam, another soldier offered to sell me a captured SKS rifle.

I would loved to have brought a captured enemy weapon back to the United States, but only if I was the one who actually took it from an enemy soldier.

To me, anything else would have seemed fraudulent and dishonest.

So, I didn’t purchase his captured SKS.

At the time, I was in a Signal Corps unit, and not the Infantry, so it was highly unlikely that I would ever engage the enemy face to face, and risk my life doing anything truly heroic.

However, I did manage to retrieve a metal punji stake from a booby trap we found, while on a patrol outside our perimeter.

Other guys laughed when I requested the paperwork authorizing me to bring a “War Trophy” back to the United States, since, after all, it was only a mere punji stake.

But, the souvenir punji stake, along with the “War Trophy Registration/Authorization” certificate, is currently displayed on the wall of my quarters here at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi.

It may be only a mere punji stake, but it’s authentic, and I dug it out of the booby trap with my own hands, using my hunting knife.

Hey, I’m the first to admit I ain’t no hero.

But, I was there, and I got what I got.

Did I ever tell you that when they told me I was being awarded the Bronze Star Medal, that I started laughing, because I thought they were playing a joke on me?

I couldn’t believe it when they actually handed me a copy of the orders, with my name underlined in red!

Anyway, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Thank you.

John Robert Mallernee
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

John Robert Mallernee on November 16, 2010 at 3:16 am

    @Robert, first, thank you for your service. Second, the punji stick trophy sounds cool to me. I would’ve maybe bought the rifle for the rifle being shootable period. But you are obviously a man of principles. Good to see that these days still. I agree the trophy is only good for the guy that actually earned it. I still have some baseball trophies from little league.lol I earned those, it wasn’t easy winning a city championship and it was one of a few really cool things I did as a kid.

    samurai on November 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

“(FYI, I grew up right near Ty Cobb’s home during the time he played for the Tigers, and it was no big whoop.)”

…??…Ty Cobb’s last game was played on Sept 11, 1928…how OLD are you??

C: Will rewrite that. He lived in the home during the time he played for the Tigers. Even my father was not alive then. DS

Catfur on November 16, 2010 at 9:59 am

It’s sort of a secular version of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox practice of venerating relics. To many people, there’s something magical about an object that was at an event or belonged to a person.

Let me put it this way, if you’d come across a pen Reagan used to sign a bill, you’d probably treat it a bit different than other pens, even if they were the same make and model. The only difference is that you have an interest in politics and those other people have an interest in sports, probably to an unhealthy extent, IMO.

Polichinello on November 16, 2010 at 10:23 am

Sorry Deb, but a Ph.D. does make you a “doctor.” Not a medical doctor, but the title is earned if the person has been in the hours of research and study.

I know people who spend years in classes and labs, and their Ph.D. reveals an important part of science. After all, Dr. Shockley who had a Ph.D. in physics, developed the transistor. Would you think any less of calling him Dr. because he is not a medical doctor?

I agree that most Ph.D.s these days are garbage…Ph.D.s in the social sciences, including education, psychology, etc. are a joke. However, in the sciences, the Ph.D.s are earned (except for those received under a quota system, but that applies to medicine, too.)

JG: Please. We all know Ph.D.s are mostly B.S. I have a J.D., which as you know means Juris Doctorate. Does that mean people should call me, “Dr. Schlussel.” and consider me a doctor? Absolutely not. The only Doctor Schlussels in my family were my dad and my great-uncle, who had Medical Degrees. I also consider dentists and DOs, etc. to be docs. DS

Jonathan Grant on November 16, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Actually her thesis was on insulin metabolism in rats. This, of course, gives her no skill as a therapist.

    Occam's Tool on November 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I disagree, partly. Yes, many Ph.D.s are B.S, but not in, say, the biotech field or the fields of physics and engineering. These Ph.D.s are the people who advance our knowledge of science, and our nation. I work with these people, and they have earned the title, “Dr.”

    If you are talking about lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, I agree with you.

    Jonathan E. Grant on November 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Debbie, a Dr. is an honorary designation.

    You have the right to be called that if you taught in law school.

    There are doctors and then there are doctors.

    NormanF on November 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm

In my opinion collect something because you admire that person and want to honor their achievements for them.

But its always inappropriate to claim those achievements are yours. If you buy someone else’s trophies, don’t ever claim they belong to you.

That’s a simple rule in life to follow. You can honor someone you like but don’t ever claim what you bought from them for your collection is something you earned because you didn’t and that would never be right in my book.

NormanF on November 16, 2010 at 11:21 am

An explanation of other people’s sports trophy collection—very simply, it provides a connection to an emotional experience you had in the past, usually in childhood, that was pleasant and life affirming. Let me give you a for-instance from my personal experience.

I was a runt as a kid—at age 14, I was 95 lbs. and 5’2”. Imagine me at 7—very small. My dad took me to Morrie Mages’ Sports in Chicago to meet Ernie Banks, who at the time was in one of his last seasons. Ernie shook my hand and commented to my dad on how big my wrists were—as you could see, I had definite body issues at the time, and his comment made me float on air for a month. I remember this 41 years later like it was yesterday. Would I buy one of his trophies if it were up for sale and I could afford it? Like a flash!

It may not make sense to you (and women are more practical than men), but there it is. By the way, as an aside, Dr. Laura makes my skin crawl on her show. As a board certfied psychiatrist, she makes me wince.

Occam's Tool on November 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Why do people go after trophies, awards, etc they didn’t earn? Simple. They are taking hero worship to a new level, living vicariously through them, while sitting on the couch fixated on reality TV, over-watched sports events (dart-throwing??), talking heads, and court jester savants giving political discourse.

Not Ovenready on November 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I disagree with Debbie. I think its just fine to purchase a trophy earned by someone else. We’re not talking about buying a bowling trophy at a flea market and passing it off as your own, we’re talking about an MVP trophy from major league baseball. Just knowing that Kirk Gibson accepted it in front of thousands of fans, held it in his hands, cherished it in his own private wall of fame, that’s significant for collectors. Further, I believe these items are as historically relevant for collectors as the private correspondence of someone like a former president. (And I doubt a Gerald Ford hand written letter would sell for the hundreds of thousands that these items went for)

I’ve been collecting WW2 era comic books for 35 years and one of the biggest thrills I get is from handling a book that’s 60 or 70 years old and imagining the little kid picking it up off the news stand for a dime. Or taking a big whiff of the book and getting that amazing musty smell that only decades in a crappy basement can deliver. (For me, its an even stronger olfactory/memory connection than smelling the leather of my childhood baseball glove) That nostalgia is the tops for me. It reconnects me with my dad and with my childhood, too.

Would I ever spend that kind of money on a piece of sports memorabilia? Never. But I can understand why some would.

(And your J.Peterman analogy is not appropriate. J.Peterman purchased the stories to pass off as his own. I doubt anyone spending half a million on a baseball bat will attempt to tell their friends that THEY in fact, not Kirk Gibson, hit the homerun in Game 1.)

JS: Actually, the Peterman story is exactly on point. . . unless you’re naive enough to think that people shell out millions without psychologically feeling some sort of connection with the achievement the trophy represents. DS

Joe Schmo on November 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Debbie, people may feel a visceral connection or sense of identity with their hero. Nothing wrong with it; that’s why people identify with celebrities.

    Its when people cross the line and try to be like them that its not really acceptable. In this day and age.

    NormanF on November 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Okay, this is the last few seconds I’m willing to invest in debating Seinfeld storylines with Debbie Schlussel…

Debbie–I DO believe the purchasers have a psychological connection to the achievement. And to the player, the game, possibly the team, etc.

But J.Peterman DIDN’T have any kind of connection to Kramer’s stories. He simply wanted something he could pass off as his own tales of adventure. His first idea was to have Elaine make up a bunch of stories to pass off as his own. Then he actually purchased a strangers (kramer) stories on a whim and did in fact pass them off as his own. No connection. No ownership. No nostalgia. Ultimately he abandoned them as useless.

(And btw, despite the fact that you’re probably going to lambaste me, I love every stubborn bone in your body!)

Joe Schmo on November 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I think having a sports hero’s MVP trophy would be a whole lot more impressive a collectible than a simple autographed 8×10 glossy. The only part of this story that boggles my mind is how much was paid for the stuff.

vegasrider on November 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I can understand why someone would purchase memorabilia to show they’re appreciation for they’re favorite sport. I don’t however understand spending obscene amounts of money for them.
I dated a women once whose cousin played for the Denver Broncos during the 1998 Superbowl season and when he showed me his ring I was extremely impressed he had the opportunity to live out such an accomplishment. I could see myself purchasing a Superbowl ring for some amount of money if I had the disposable income, but $75,000 no way.
I’m selling old comics I purchased for a quarter for some good money so I can appreciate peoples desire to relive they’re youth me however I can only see the future.

Anthony on November 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I think collecting these sports trophies is a little like advertising. If I use the same shaving cream that some sports star uses, or at least endorses, it rubs off on me; I am like him, or if there is an ad where some pretty girl admires some article of male clothing, then if I buy that clothing, the girls will all admire me because I have that type of clothing. Same principle on a larger scale. A high-school choral director gets a PhD and then she demands everyone in the high school call her Dr. Jones.

Re PhDs, the ones that are really fake are the ones in the educational field. Some H.S. administrator goes to school part-time for 15 years and gets a worthless PhD. Counseling ones are similarly phony. Or else someone works part-time, goes to night school for 20 years and gets a PhD in Arts and Crafts, or some stupid field like that.

I do think that scientific PhDs have more value, but calling a non-MD “doctor” is usually pretentious.

Little Al on November 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I saw Rusty Staub at the Troy Denny’s counter in 1978. Does that count?

united states of sharia on November 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm

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