DESPITE WHAT collectibles fanatics might tell you, auctioning baseball memorabilia is nothing new. Way back in 1941, during the magical season in which Ted Williams hit .406, collectors auctioned his John Hancock for as much as $100. In the 1960s, Babe Ruth and Roger Maris signatures commanded upward of $500. In the late 1970s, the cash cow was Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie Jackson—one of Mr. October's three World Series home-run balls went for more than a grand.
While bounties and auction media have changed drastically, so too has the definition of "memorabilia." Earlier this season, some chump in Minneapolis used a personal Web site to auction a wad of gum chewed by 2002 World Series MVP Luis Gonzalez (winning bid: $10,000). Earlier this month, another shmendrick used his site to auction clippings from Oakland Athletics pitcher Tim Hudson's goatee (winning bid: $75). Most recently—last week—overrated Mariners reliever Jeff Nelson turned to eBay to sell bone chips that team physicians had extracted from his pitching elbow.
The bidding for Nellie's bone chips exceeded $23,000 when eBay officials said the chips violated a "no body parts" policy and squashed the auction. Nelson had earmarked half of the money for the Bear Creek School in Redmond and the other half for the Curtis Williams fund at the University of Washington—both valiant and magnanimous decisions. Now, however, with the auctions called off, nobody gets anything—no bone chips, no money, nothing.
Nellie has said that he's considering auctioning the chips privately. In the meantime, however, having recently defeated Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and his ban of the word "suck" from Safeco Field, I am willing to pick up where Mr. Frisbee Slider has left off. No, I'm not selling pieces of one of my typing knuckles. Instead, I'm auctioning the unwashed "Mariners Management Sucks" T-shirt I wore during my successful protest on May 7. I paid only $15 for it, but at last check, the high bid for the item was $500. I'm donating all of the proceeds to the library at the King County Work Training Program's Youth Learning Center in Renton.
The auction closes Saturday at midnight. You can see the shirt online at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1829617320. Who knows? Someday, when Mariners fans wake up and understand the direct connection between fanaticism and World Series championships, the T-shirt could be worth millions, or at least a few chips of bone.