Phillies to auction 250 Vet items
PHILADELPHIA -- Looking for the locker used by Mike Schmidt? How about a banner honoring Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn? Or a chair where veteran broadcaster Harry Kalas sat during some of his classic home run calls?
The items are among roughly 250 pieces of Veterans Stadium memorabilia that the Philadelphia Phillies plan to auction off next month before the ballpark is demolished in the spring.
"The Final Pieces" Veterans Stadium Memorabilia Auction & Sale, scheduled for Feb. 6 at the Wachovia Center, will offer fans a chance to bid on lockers, turf, blueprints, plaques and other mementos from the Vet.
The auction follows an earlier sale of thousands of stadium seats from the ballpark where the Phillies had played since 1971.
"It's going to be a pretty unique event, it really is," Phillies spokesman Larry Shenk said.
The Phillies begin play in the new Citizens Bank Park this spring. The Eagles, who also played in the Vet, inaugurated Lincoln Financial Field this season.
As part of a live auction, the Phillies will sell lockers used by current and former players including Steve Carlton, Jim Thome and Schmidt, the Hall of Fame third baseman.
There will be retired number banners, once displayed in the Vet outfield, bearing the names of Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, Chuck Klein, Jackie Robinson and other greats.
Additional items include the blueprints for the Vet, the desk used by team chairman Bill Giles and former owner Bob Carpenter and the Phillie Phanatic's jersey and shoes.
Shelling out thousands on a locker where Carlton dressed, or a ball that Kevin Millwood used to toss a no-hitter, may seem illogical to some -- but not to memorabilia collectors and some passionate Philadelphia sports fans.
Pat Tully, vice president of sales for Grandstand Sports and Memorabilia Inc. in New York, said there would "absolutely" be a market for such goods.
"Anything that's in the stadium is going to be a collector's item -- instantly," Tully said.
He noted that lockers, though not common memorabilia items, bear sentimental significance.
"They hang their suit up, they've probably got a couple good luck charms. That's where they prepare for the game. That's where they put their game face on ... it's very intimate."
The items will be held in storage sites, including the Phillies' new ballpark preview center, before the auction. Net proceeds from the sales will go toward Phillies Charities, Inc., officials said.
General admission to the event is $10. The live auction carries a $50 registration fee.
Other items that will be sold separate from the auction include the outfield wall, packaged field turf and dirt from the pitcher's mound, home plate and three bases, said Michael Harris, a development and financial specialist with the Phillies.
"It all comes back to memories, it all comes back to what do you remember seeing while you were here. Who was your favorite player? What was your favorite event?" Harris said.
The event, he said, will offer a chance to "say goodbye one last time" to the soon-to-be-gone Veterans Stadium.
"This really is it. This is the last goodbye," he said.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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