Sunday, April 13, 2003

Nostalgia sells with Reds fans

500 show up looking for historic deals and steals

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Larry Benning of Lebanon sits in the locker of Johnny Bench holding the sign he purchased at the auction.
(Ernest Coleman photos)
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A smaller-than-expected crowd made for a lot of good buys, but left some big-ticket items unsold at Saturday's Cinergy Field liquidation auction put on by O'Rourke Wrecking Co.

Promoter Steve Schell had expected upward of 2,000 people, but attendance peaked around 500 - most of whom had no interest in spending thousands of dollars for retired jersey displays or star-player lockers.

Pete Rose's locker got a bid of $2,000 that was nowhere near the $10,000 reserve, and the retired jerseys of Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Ted Kluszewski did not meet reserves ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

O'Rourke owner Mike O'Rourke said he will probably list the unsold items on eBay, the Internet auction site.

Some major items did sell, notably the entire outfield wall - which went for $10,000 to the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor league baseball team. The Reds' AA affiliate faxed in its bid Friday.

[IMAGE] Jake West, 10, of Dillonville, with bats purchased by his dad.
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Tony Sansalone, a Cincinnati attorney, bought a pair of seats from Crosley Field autographed by Rose and Johnny Bench for $6,000.

Nostalgia sells strong, Sansalone said. "I'm going to give the seats to my nieces and nephews as a gift," he said.

Planet Collectibles owner Mark Kinman said Sansalone probably paid too much for the seats, which had been repainted with a new coat of red paint.

"They're not worth more than 2,000," said Kinman, whose memorabilia store is in Florence. "It's not the original paint. They were retouched."

Kinman, meanwhile, paid $900 for the top of the Reds' dugout.

And a Frank Robinson jersey display was purchased for $1,000 by Michael Butler of Wilmington.

"I don't know where I'm going to put it," said Butler, 49. "I have to hide it from my wife to begin with."

Turnstiles proved to be the most popular item. Close to two dozen sold for $300 to $400 each.


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