ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of bidders, most presumably St. Louis Cardinals fans, now own a piece of Stan Musial’s life after an online auction of his possessions.
Officials with Heritage Auctions of Dallas said Monday that winning bids for the monthlong auction totalled $1.2 million, far more than expected. The auction ended Saturday.
Items ranged from game-worn jerseys to World Series rings to Musial’s legendary harmonicas.
“The results far surpassed our pre-auction estimates and they are a reflection of Stan Musial’s popularity not only in St. Louis, but worldwide,” Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage, said in a statement.
Musial died in January at age 92, a year after his wife, Lillian, died. His family kept most of his belongings and gave away many others to family, friends and organizations, including the Cardinals.
Grandson Brian Schwarze said Musial's four-bedroom home in Ladue was stuffed with so many things he collected over the years that relatives decided to auction some of it.
A 2011 Cardinals World Series ring given to Musial sold for $191,200 -- auction officials anticipated it would go for around $40,000. A four-page letter to Musial from Ty Cobb in 1952 went for $71,700, well above the projected price of $10,000. A baseball signed by Babe Ruth given to Musial when he was a minor-leaguer in 1941 brought in $53,775.
It wasn't all high-end items. The auction included things as seemingly mundane as lighters, neckties, even Christmas cards.
Schwarze said one of his favourite items in the auction was the letter from Cobb, whose .366 lifetime batting average is the highest ever. In it, Cobb discusses everything from how to break out of a slump to his feelings on Musial's demeanour.
"Seriously now, I know well that you averaged in 6 of your last 7 years .355. Does that give you a right to be so darn modest?" Cobb wrote. "So go out there now and lead the league again and if you don't lead both Major Leagues this year, you should be shot in the behind with mustard seed."
Musial remains a beloved figure in St. Louis, for his on-field performance and off-field friendliness. He was a seven-time batting champion who spent his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals, playing on three championship teams in the 1940s. Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Thousands ignored the January cold to turn out for Musial's funeral procession and public visitation. In July, a new Mississippi River bridge in St. Louis was named in his honour.