We love sports. Over our lives, the average sports fan can spend tens of thousands of dollars on cable and satellite packages, occasional tickets, travel to and from games and jerseys – to name a few expenses. Indeed, billions of dollars are spent by fans around the world as they follow their favorite leagues and teams, through defeat and victory. For most of us, an occasional ticket, a cable subscription and a new jersey are the extent of our purchases when it comes to sports and our sporting heroes. For some, however, the addiction goes deeper. Extreme fans and collectors will go further than most to get any piece of their team or a player, even if it’s rather unusual.
Sports memorabilia is a big business. Every year there are major auctions held all over the world related to specific teams or players. At such events you’ll find everything from official gear to personal effects of sports figures – all available to the highest bidder. Game worn jerseys, trophies, World Championship rings, signed photos and used sports equipment are just a few of the usual objects collectors and fans flock to get their hands on. Then there are the online auctions, such as eBay, where an occasional gem may pop up for bidding. All in all, it’s a competitive world where fans battle with each other for coveted pieces of history to add to their personal collections (and bragging rights).
Beyond the ‘usual’ items you might find auctioned off, sports fans have demonstrated time and time again that they will spend their money on some of the strangest objects. The following list looks at 20 of the more bizarre sports memorabilia that people have bid on and purchased over the years. Some of these are interesting while others are just plain weird and gross. Of course, if you’re a die-hard fan of a certain player or team, chances are that your definition of strange or your tolerance of what is bizarre are a little different.
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20 Wayne Gretzky Oil Painting Puck
In the world of hockey, there is no disputing that Wayne Gretzky is deserving of the title “The Great One.” From 1979 to 1999, Gretzky left his mark on the league to the point that his iconic 99 jersey number was retired league-wide. He holds over 60 NHL records, including most goals, most assists and most points – both in a season and overall. Rookie trading cards and signed jerseys related to #99 will always collect a hefty sum. This specific oil painted puck, commemorating his time with the New York Rangers, will most likely not. Still, for $150, someone got a badly painted representation of the Great One.
19 Tim Hudson’s Dirt
Search around the internet and you can find all sorts of Tim Hudson memorabilia – and quite a few angry fan rants directed towards the starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. One of the strangest bits memorabilia for the Hudson fans out there is a framed unsigned picture of him in his Atlanta Brave days for around $70 to $100. No, that in itself isn’t strange but included in the frame is some game-day dirt which is said to be MLB authentic. The dirt didn’t come off Hudson’s cleats, uniform or glove. It’s just dirt from somewhere on the field in a game he pitched in. Random and strange.
18 Bozo the Clown Card
This bizarre and somewhat terrifying card makes us wonder why on earth anyone would create this, let alone buy it. Most people are familiar with Bozo the Clown and those that weren’t in the early 1990s were targeted by a promotional campaign in Chicago which included this Donruss baseball card. Clowns are creepy on the best of days. Put one on a baseball card holding a bat and we have the cherry on the ice cream sundae of insanity. Examples continually pop up on eBay and for those of you interested, Bozo can be yours for around $100.
17 Robert Griffin III’s Cast
It’s true to say that big things were expected of Washington Redskins’ QB RG3 when he was signed in 2012. Many fans thought the team gave up a lot to acquire the rookie. Even though he ended up injured near the end of the season, RG3 still posted some impressive numbers for the season. It’s all been a bit downhill since then. Nonetheless, Washington’s QB still has dedicated fans. One even went so far as to purchase the cast worn by Griffin after he dislocated his ankle in Week 2 of the 2014 season. For $1,522, the fan got a sweat-soaked bit of plaster signed by all of Griffin’s teammates.
16 FIFA World Cup Draw Tags
In early December 2005, the draw for the FIFA World Cup was made in Leipzig, Germany. When all the glitz and glamor were over and the dignitaries were gone, cleaning crews moved in. Matthias Blume, a German man present after the draw ceremony, noticed that the name tags for all 32 countries – you know the ones they draw out of the bag – were still sitting around so he scooped them up. Not done there, he decided to auction them off on eBay for a little profit. Before FIFA came threatening legal action, the auction for ‘Germany’ had passed the $1000 dollar mark.
15 Luis Gonzalez’ Gum
Remember that scene from the Christmas film ELF where Will Ferrell was picking up used gum on the streets of New York and putting it in his mouth? Pretty gross. Apparently Ferrell may have been on to something. While handling a stranger’s chewed gum is gross, used gum from sports personalities is the next best thing to pure gold. Former MLB outfielder Luis Gonzalez’ chewed gum created quite a stir in the collecting world in 2002. Then with the Arizona Diamondbacks, some Bazooka bubble gum chewed by Gonzalez was scooped up and sold to one lucky buyer for a cool $10,000.
14 Kansas City Ski Goggles
When you think of the 2014 World Series, you probably remember that the San Francisco Giants won it by a run in seven games against the Kansas City Royals. For Kansas City fans, they’ll remember the glorious run to the final which saw the team squeak into the playoffs and then sweep most of the competition right out of the way. During the celebrations for claiming a wild card spot, Royals players were spotted wearing ski goggles to keep the beer and champagne out of the eyes. At $500 a pair, fans could purchase these authentic and pre-worn celebration goggles from the team’s store.
13 Andre Agassi’s Ponytail
While today those not familiar with the world of tennis may confuse him with the UFC’s Dana White, back in the 1990s, Andre Agassi was a star of the tennis world with over 60 tennis titles to his name and a rockin’ mullet to boot. Yes, that mullet with its blonde highlights was pretty epic – worthy of an IROC Camaro commercial or it’s very own REO Speedwagon video. There was just one catch. The hair wasn’t actually Agassi’s but part of a wig he wore to cover up his hair loss while he was rising to the top of the tennis world. This didn’t stop Robert Earl from buying the ponytail (aka the party-in-the-back) for thousands of dollars to put on display in his New York Official All-Star cafe.
12 Jeff Nelson’s Bone Chips
When former relief pitcher Jeff Nelson was playing for the Seattle Mariners, he needed a little surgery to remove bone chips from his arm. What did he do with those bone chips? Well, like any pro-athlete he put them up on eBay. As a joke, after some discussion with teammates, he put them online to see what he could get. At $23,600, eBay pulled the auction because it contravened their rules on selling human parts. Ok, so technically this is not a sale. However, the fact that someone was willing to spend over $23,000 on a few little bits of bone makes this a worthy addition to any bizarre sports memorabilia discussion.
11 Tom Seaver’s Toothpick
Tom Seaver was an MLB pitcher from 1967 to 1986. Over his career he played for four teams but he’s probably best known for his stint with the New York Mets. In 1992, a toothpick, which was found in the pocket of one of Seaver’s warm-up jackets which he used with the Mets from 1967 to 1969, went up for auction. Amazingly, someone actually paid money for the used scrap of wood. The toothpick was claimed after a winning bid of $440. How anyone knew the toothpick was certainly Seaver’s is unclear. We’re just wondering how this all would have turned out if Seaver had used chewing tobacco instead of toothpicks?
10 Mickey Mantle’s Death Threat
In September 1999, a number of baseball items, including some big ticket items from legendary player Mickey Mantle, went up for auction. Mantle was a 16-time All Star and seven-time World Series Champion with numerous other awards and records to his name. Unsurprisingly, any Mantle-related pieces sold quickly and often for a lot. Actor Billy Crystal, for instance, paid out $239,000 for a glove worn in 1960. In terms of the bizarre, one auction winner ended up dishing out $18,400 for a signed death threat sent to the Yankees star in 1953.
9 WWE Trading Cards
Yes, we know that WWE isn’t really a sport. For those of you who disagree, just go and try to place a bet with Vegas and see how that goes. In any event, this “athletic drama’ attracts a lot of fans. It’s natural that there’s a lot of memorabilia to go along with it and some is a bit on the bizarre side. Take, for example, the WWE trading cards. There’s more than a few that depict some rather strange (and non-sporting) scenes. Perhaps one of the strangest from the 2013 Topps ‘Best of WWE’ Series is that of AJ Lee ripping the head off a bear. Not done there, the card has a piece of the bear embedded in it which kind of makes it an interactive experience. It can be yours for around $80 to $120.
8 Curt Schilling’s Sock
Curt Shilling pitched in what is considered by many Boston fans as an epic Game 6 of the ALCS series between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Boston went on to win the series in seven but the image of Shilling’s blood soaked sock has become one of the most enduring. The pitcher had recently had surgery on his injured ankle and required shots to alleviate the pain and swelling. Freshly stitched up, Shilling’s ankle seeped blood the whole time he was on the mound. Nonetheless, television cameras zoomed in on the bloody sock, making it a key story of the night and the series. In a 2013 auction, Schilling auctioned off the bloody bit of memorabilia for a massive $92,613. We’re just hoping no one ever decided to clean or restore it.
7 Piazza’s Bat
During the 2000 World Series between the Mets and Yankees, it’s safe to say tensions were high between the two city rivals. In Game 2 of the series, Roger Clemens faced off against Mike Piazza. The Mets’ catcher swung and shattered his bat on one of Clemens’ pitches. A large chunk of the bat bounced towards Clemens and the Yankees pitcher fielded the debris and proceeded to throw it in the direction of Piazza. Both benches cleared and Clemens could be seen telling Piazza he thought he was fielding the ball. Nobody believed that for a second. In any event, the famous bit of bat went up for auction and sold for an impressive $47,800 in 2014.
6 David Ortiz’ Beard
FIFA corruption charges, Roger Goodell’s poor decision-making and playoff beards – what do they all have in common? First, they have all become more and more common in the sporting world. Second, only one of them is a money-maker. Yes, it’s the beard. Growing the beard itself won’t make you money, unless you’re superstitious and think it provides powers. Seriously, though when you’re David Ortiz, the MVP from the 2013 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, even your beard trimmings can make money. Ortiz shaved his playoff beard following the end of the MLB season and auctioned it off with proceeds going to Movember. The winning bidder took home the discarded facial hair for a whopping $10,877.
5 Ty Cobb’s Dentures
Tyrus Cobb is best known for his time as outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, a team he played for from 1905 to 1926. He set many records during his day and even holds a few of those records to this day. In the world of collectables and sports memorabilia Cobb is best known for his rare 1911 General Baking Co. card which fetched over $270,000 at auction. At the other end of the spectrum, and likely far rarer than any trading card, was what one fan purchased in 1999. For $7,475, one Cobb fan won the bidding for a set of the late Tigers’ dentures.
4 Chewed-Up Michael Vick Cards
Michael Vick may not be a friend to the canine community but his trading cards ended up bringing in a substantial amount which was donated to the Humane Society. Following Vick’s conviction for charges relating to dog-fighting in 2007, many fans pulled support for the disgraced Atlanta Falcons QB. One fan who lived in Missouri let their dogs have a go at 22 Michael Vick sports cards. The shredded and chewed memorabilia was then posted on eBay where the winning bidder dished out $7,400. In the long run, the cards may not hold any value whatsoever, but the money donated to the Human Society is a fitting result to the whole story.
3 Art Modell’s Toilet
To say that Art Modell wasn’t the most popular owner the Cleveland Browns ever had would be a big understatement. Sure he was in charge when the Browns won the NFL title in 1964 but that game was won with players from Paul Brown’s team – a legendary coach Modell had fired. The Browns went on to win nothing over the next few decades. Not done annoying the Browns faithful, Modell soured relations with the Cleveland Indians, a team who had shared the stadium with the Browns before deciding to build their own venue. The icing on the cake was Modell’s decision to relocate the Browns Franchise in 1996. All these decisions made Modell infamous and affected the value of related memorabilia. One fan purchased the toilet from the Browns owner’s suite for $2,700, just so he could see where the owner had made all his terrible decisions over the years.
2 Nolan Ryan’s Jock Strap
Yes, someone honestly paid out a substantial amount of money for a piece of equipment which protected the sensitive bits of one of MLB’s most famous pitchers. Normally when we talk about auctioned baseball memorabilia, we think of gloves, uniforms and balls. In this case, we guess the latter applies here. In 1991, Texas Rangers’ pitcher Nolan Ryan set the MLB record with his seventh no-hitter. Now, Nolan is a legendary pitcher and anything associated with him will likely collect a hefty premium. One fan and collector, however, went below the belt to get his piece of Ryan memorabilia when they paid $25,000 for the game worn jock-strap. We’re just wondering how this prized possession is now displayed.
1 A Signed Urinal
What’s more bizarre than a toilet or jock strap? How about a signed urinal? Averaging over 1,500 rushing yards a season, Barry Sanders is one of the greatest running backs the NFL has ever seen. He had a lot of fans but some went further than others in their love of the Detroit Lions and their famous RB. One fan bought an old urinal from the Silverdome in 2014 for $23. He then took the urinal to a local mall to have Sanders autograph it. With the autograph and the very real (and disturbing) chance Sanders had used the urinal to relieve himself over the 10 seasons he played for the Lions, someone was bound to dish out money for this, right? Yes. Someone actually ended up paying $3,000 to take this bizarre bit of sports memorabilia.
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