This is your chance to win the Cy Young Award. Well, win is not
quite the right word. More correctly, the word is buy. The
seller is Steve Carlton, who has put his 1982 trophy up for
auction this week along with 43 other pieces of his memorabilia.
A spokesman for the auction house, Mastro Fine Sports Auctions,
of Oak Brook, Ill., said that Lefty is not selling the relics
for reasons of pressing finance. We couldn't get an elaboration
from the reticent Carlton, who declined through the auction
house to be interviewed for this article. Too bad. It would be
nice to know if Carlton had a bonus clause in his contract for
winning the Cy Young, in which case he now would be trying to
cash in a second time.
Easier to understand was the motivation of Pete Rose, whose
debts were hinted at in the inventory of Roseabilia to be found
in card shops and at autograph shows long before the debts came
under the scrutiny of the late Bart Giamatti. The joke about
Rose was that there was a large volume of his game-used stuff
available because he supposedly had sold Dumpstersful to dealers.
Collector: I'd like a Pete Rose game-worn jersey please.
Dealer: Reds, Phillies or Expos?
Dealer: Home or away?
Dealer: What size?
There are four Carlton uniforms and six warmup shirts up for
bid. A Phillies home uniform that the 329-game winner wore in
his remarkable 27-victory season in 1972 opened at $1,800. A
more mundane Cleveland Indians shirt from 15 years later opened
at $300. There's also the full uniform Carlton says he was
wearing when he struck out his 4,000th batter while with the
Giants in '86. That uniform, the glove he used during the game
and the warmup jacket he wore before and after are being
auctioned separately with minimum bids totaling $3,600. The
catalog notes that the jacket "is complete with two pieces of
Bazooka gum still in the right pocket." But it's that Cy Young
Award that will draw not just the most money (bidding opened at
$7,500) but also the most consternation.
In Hollywood the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
makes all Oscar nominees sign a statement agreeing not to sell
the statuette to anyone other than back to the academy for a
nominal fee. That has ended a lot of embarrassing Oscar dumping.
It's too bad the Baseball Writers Association of America, the
presenters of the Cy Young, haven't required winners to make the
same kind of pledge. The writers no doubt would love to thwart a
man who avoided the press throughout his career.