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Baseball relics to be appraised at All-Star FanFest in Minneapolis

Louie Krenzen found this old baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio, Al Kaline and others, several years ago after cleaning up his grandfather’s home. Photo courtesy of Louie Krenzen1 / 2
A jersey worn by Minnesota Twins power hitter Harmon Killebrew is just one of the many items up for auction during this weekend’s FanFest in Minneapolis. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com2 / 2

Several years ago, Louie Krenzen was cleaning up his grandfather’s old home preparing to move in when he came across an old baseball among some old trading cards and other memorabilia.

One of the baseballs was signed by legendary New York Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio as well as fellow Hall of Famers Willie McCovey, Whitey Ford, Al Kaline and Yogi Berra. The ball also was signed by NHL Hall of Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and some others that Krenzen couldn’t identify.

Krenzen asked his grandfather, Jack Krenzen, if he knew where the ball came from or if he had any information about it, but none was forthcoming.

“I wish I had a better story for it,” the younger Krenzen said, “but I just don’t know much about it.”

Krenzen wanted to know more about the value of the baseball and responded to a Facebook post from the News Tribune with several emailed photos of the ball.

Jeremy Kraft, an appraiser for Hunt Auctions, took a look at the photos by email and said, “I would likely put it in the $50-$100 range given condition and the odd mix of names.”

One of the problems with the condition of Krenzen’s ball was that it appears someone attempted to trace over the J in Joe DiMaggio with a darker magic marker.

“Any alteration at all will substantially impact the value,” Kraft said.

Hunt Auctions is holding an appraisal fair at the Major League All-Star FanFest that begins today and runs through Tuesday, in conjunction with the All-Star Game in Minneapolis. The Exton, Pa.-based auction house is offering free appraisals to fans bringing in memorabilia to the event.

“We’ll tell you what it’s worth, and give you some tips on how to preserve it and protect it,” Kraft said.

Have an old Homer Hanky from the 1991 World Series? You might want to leave that at home. Homer Hankies might be nightmare fuel for Charlie Leibrandt or any Atlanta Braves fan old enough to remember Kirby Puckett’s shot into the rippling white sea beyond the Metrodome’s center-field wall, but unfortunately are worth only $5-20, according to Kraft.

But a Puckett home jersey from the 1991 season is estimated to bring anywhere from $7,500-10,000 at the auction. One of the problems with the Homer Hankies or even those commemorative Wheaties boxes from the 1987 or ’91 championship seasons is the large quantities of both items that were produced and that are still available.

Other Twins items that are on display and up for auction at the Hunt Auctions exhibit include a Rod Carew home jersey that’s estimated to bring $7,500-10,000. A Harmon Killebrew away jersey from 1971 is valued between $20,000-30,000. Kraft said he was surprised by the high value of Killebrew items since the Twins slugger’s death in 2011.

“He’s not someone you would expect to hit Mickey Mantle-level pricing and he didn’t hit that, but he was a lot closer that I thought he would be,” Kraft said.

The high prices for Killebrew items are due to his iconic status and importance in Minnesota’s baseball history.

“There seems to be a good core of collectors that have led to some prices that are surprising,” Kraft said. “He’s helped redefine the interest levels in a regional star player.”

The auction also includes a glove used by Killebrew during the 1960 season — before the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota — as well as a glove worn by Yankees great Lou Gehrig in 1935.

The All-Star FanFest is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Monday and 9-6 on Tuesday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The live auction begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Admission is $35 for adults and $30 for children under 12, senior citizens and military personnel.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Lake Superior School District board of education and high school sports in Lake County. 

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