APRIL SEEMS like so long ago: The Dow was above 12,000, the Yankees were in playoff contention, and the market for memorabilia from soon-to-be-closed Yankee and Shea stadiums seemed to be limitless. As one auction-house president said to SI, "I know a lot of people who would rather have pieces from Yankee Stadium than the Roman Colosseum."
But the bubble for New York ballpark mementos has been slow to materialize. When several Yankees-related items went on the block in an auction at Madison Square Garden last Saturday, the bidding was less than fevered. The ball Yankees catcher Jose Molina hit for the final home run at the Stadium, which was expected to sell for at least $200,000, was pulled from the sale after it failed to draw the minimum opening bid of $100,000. A collection of championship rings that belonged to former Yankees owner Del Webb, expected to go for $500,000 or more, was yanked after drawing a high bid of $325,000. And a 1949 Plymouth owned by Mickey Mantle went for only $34,000.
Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's auction house, which sponsored the sale, blamed the financial crisis for the poor results. "There's been some disappointment," he said. "Clearly the economy has affected bidding."