Collecting with Jeff: March 2017

Collecting with Jeff: March 2017

Baseball Press Pins
By Jeff Figler
One of the rarest, and collectible, of all baseball items is the press pin. There are many sports collectors who are not even familiar with what a press pin is.
Actually, as the words imply, it is a pin given to a member of the press, presumably covering a sporting event. Although most sporting press pins have been associated with World Series and All-Star Games in baseball, there are now press pins associated with Super Bowls, NBA Championships, Stanley Cup Finals, Indianapolis 500 races, and the list is growing.
Baseball press pins have existed for a little over 100 years, and have served as badges for members of the media at a major sporting event. Nowadays, the media are given more credentials than a metal pin, even though a press pin is now a commemorative, rather than a required item.

But, the roots of the baseball press pins, now truly collector’s items, date back to the early 1910s. The New York Giants Manager, John McGraw, had a wide circle of friends who wanted to go to the games for free. McGraw did not want to say no to any of them. McGraw had passes given to his friends to get into the stadium. They would go to the press box as the working media was on the field interviewing players before the game. When the media would come to the press box area, they would find their seats taken.
The solution was that the newly-formed Baseball Writers of America issued specially-designed lapel pins which would be required of anyone trying to gain access to the press box area. Since that time, press pins have been produced for nearly every baseball World Series and All-Star Games, and some other major sporting events.
Press pins fit the criteria for a collectible. They are very scarce, they are very desirable, and most of them are in good condition. Besides, they are extremely lightweight and easy to move. As an example of how scarce they are, in the early years, no more than a few hundred were given to each World Series team. Even as late as the 1990s, only a few thousand were allotted to each team.
Besides the actual press pins that were distributed to World Series teams, there are also vintage press pins known as “phantom” pins. These were press pins that were made for contending teams that never made it to the World Series. These pins were made just in case the teams did make it to the World Series. They are valuable as well, and sometimes are even worth more than the pins of a World Series team.
The press pins of the Philadelphia Athletics from the 1911 World Series were manufactured by the Allen A. Kerr Company, and are worth the most in general, well into the thousands of dollars. That year was the first year press pins were made especially for the World Series. Nowadays, press pins from modern World Series are only worth a couple of hundred dollars even in Mint condition.
However, in a 2012 Heritage auction, a 1922 World Series press pin which served the New York Giants and New York Yankees media, sold for $11,950. The pin was in Mint condition, and of course featured both New York teams. Both teams also played at the Polo Grounds that year – the sight of all the World Series games.
In 2013, there was a press pin that sold for nearly $57,000. A World Series press pin from the New York Giants 1912 World Series between the Giants and the Boston Red Sox sold for that incredible amount. It is one of only a few remaining pins from the year’s World Series. For baseball trivia buffs, 1912 was the year that Fenway Park opened in Boston, and the team has been playing there ever since.
So baseball collectors; if you haven’t thought of collecting press pins, you might want to think about it now.
Jeff Figler has authored more than 600 published articles about collecting. He is one of the world’s leading experts on collectibles and is a former sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/STL Today, and San Diego Union-Tribune. Jeff’s most recent book is Picker’s Pocket Guide to Baseball Memorabilia published by Krause Publications. You can learn more about Jeff by visiting his website collectingwithjeff.com. He can also be reached via email at info@jefffigler.com.
Note: At press time, a 1911 World Series press pin (Philadelphia Athletics) – what some collectors consider the Holy Grail of press pins – is being auctioned through Heritage Auctions now through February 26, with an estimate of $40,000+.  Also up for grabs is a 1913 World Series press pin (Philadelphia Athletics), estimated at $6,000+; a 1914 World Series press pin (Philadelphia Athletics), estimated at $6,000+; and a 1915 World Series press pin (Philadelphia Phillies), estimated at $8,000+.
Collecting with Jeff: March 2017