Sandy Koufax’s 1953 senior yearbook from Lafayette High School, Brooklyn, New York (Lelands)
Sports memorabilia collectors are willing to shell out big bucks for high school yearbooks featuring future big league baseball stars and Hall of Famers. So take a closer look at those old yearbooks gathering dust at second-hand stores, garage sales and flea markets, as they could bring some added cash to your bank account.
Here are ten valuable yearbooks that top many collector’s wish list. There are thousands more, but these gems serve as a good starting lineup for those treasure hunters who want to hit a grand slam on their first trip to the plate.
Babe Ruth (1895-1948)
The vaunted Sultan of Swat, George Herman “Babe” Ruth was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. The Babe actually went to high school? Well, sort of. Look for Ruth’s 1914 senior yearbook from Baltimore’s St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys which, admittedly, was more an orphanage/reform school than a traditional high school. The yearbook/report is officially titled Forty-Sixth Annual Report St. Mary’s School for Boys and Thirty-Sixth Annual Report St. James’ Home Baltimore Maryland 1914. One example, picturing the teenaged Ruth inside, sold at auction for $11,400.
Mickey Mantle (1931-1995)
The Mick, who played his entire career with the New York Yankees, was inducted into Cooperstown in 1974. The big prize is Mantle’s 1949 senior yearbook, Bengal Tales, from Commerce (Oklahoma) High School, where he is pictured in no less than eleven photos. This yearbook is rare, given the fact that Mantle’s graduating class numbered only 49 students. Editions in near mint condition can sometimes top the $2,000 mark.
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972)
Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color line in 1947, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson’s 1937 senior yearbook, The Sequoian, from John Muir Technical High School, Pasadena, California, is always a crowd pleaser. One example, signed three times by Robinson, fetched $2,024 at auction.
Ted Williams (1918-2002)
Ted Williams, the last player to hit .400 in Major League Baseball, was summoned to Cooperstown in 1966. Teddy Ballgame’s 1937 senior yearbook, Dias Cardinales, from Herbert Hoover High School, San Diego, California, is a heavy hitter, often topping the $1,000 mark.
Lou Gehrig (1903-1941)
The fabled Iron Horse of the New York Yankees, Lou Gehrig was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939. Sweet Lou’s 1920 junior yearbook, The Commerce Caravel, High School of Commerce, New York City, is always a home run with collectors. One example brought $2,625 at auction.
Sandy Koufax (1935-)
The hard-throwing Sandy Koufax, who spent his entire injury-abbreviated career with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, was inducted into Cooperstown in 1972. Koufax’s June 1953 senior yearbook, Legend, from Lafayette High School, Brooklyn, New York, is a keeper. Examples in near mint condition can sell for $1,200 or more.
Cal Ripken Jr. (1960-)
The reigning Iron Man of baseball, having played in a record 2,632 straight games, Cal Ripken Jr. was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. Ripken’s 1978 senior yearbook, Arrivederci, from Aberdeen (Maryland) High School is the big catch, featuring young Cal as a standout athlete for the Eagles. This one is valued at around $800 in top condition.
Cal Ripken Jr.’s 1977 junior yearbook from Aberdeen (Maryland) High School (Huggins and Scott)
Duke Snider (1926-)
Edwin Donald “Duke” Snider, legendary home run hitter for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, was inducted into Cooperstown in 1980. Snider’s senior yearbook, Dar-U-Gar, from Compton (California) Union High School, is a real gem. Look for one of Duke’s fellow seniors, Pete Rozelle, the future Commissioner of the National Football League. This edition is valued at approximately $600-800.
Don Drysdale (1936-1993)
Don “Twin D” Drysdale, one of the most dominating pitchers of the 1960s, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. Drysdale’s 1954 senior yearbook, Crimson and Gray, from Van Nuys (California) High School, is always popular. Not only does it feature Drysdale as a star pitcher for the Wolves baseball team, but also a fellow senior with a mop of dark blond hair named Robert Redford, the future Hollywood superstar. This yearbook generally fetches $400-500 at auction.
Pete Rose (1941-)
Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose remains banned from the game for life following his admission that he gambled on baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds. Although currently ineligible for the Hall of Fame, Rose nonetheless retains a large and vocal following among fans and collectors. Rose’s 1959 junior yearbook, The Western Hills Annual, from Western Hills High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, is valued at around $500.