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Hunting for Yankees memorabilia of days past

The lockout has been really hard, guys.

If you’re ever in Ontario and find yourself traveling north through Kitchener and Waterloo, you’ll come across St. Jacobs, a quaint tourist town of roughly 2,000 people known for its farmers market, antiquing, and surrounding Mennonite communities. For the uninitiated, this sleepy town is just over an hour west of Toronto and finds itself smack dab in the middle of vast farmland and relatively untouched nature.

Finding Yankees memorabilia is surprisingly hard to do in Ontario. Given the global popularity of the team, you’d think that it would be easy, but outside of Yankees-branded lanyards and toques or overpriced Aaron Judge jerseys courtesy of Fanatics, it’s slim pickings out here for us Canadian fans. That’s where antiquing comes in.

My wife and I recently had a rare day off together, so we decided to take our first trip out to St. Jacobs in over two years (thanks to the pandemic). Our first stop on the antiquing tour wasn’t anything to write home about, but the second store — the creatively named St. Jacobs Antiques Market — specializes in rare and odd memorabilia ranging from film and music to sports and collectibles. The first thing we came across was display case upon display case of sports cards.

Derek Jeter Rookie Card: $60.00
Signed Thurman Munson Card: $60.00
Don Mattingly Rookie Card: $95.00

As someone who has just gotten into baseball card collecting myself, I spent the majority of my afternoon sifting through the letters of authentication for each Yankees card I could find. While there were probably hundreds of Yankees mixed in with the lot, these three cards were the ones that caught my attention. If you had given me two guesses, I would have thought that the Derek Jeter rookie card or the signed (though potentially printed?) Thurman Munson card would be worth more than Don Mattingly’s rookie card. I still don’t understand the intricacies of baseball card appraisal, though, so that could just be my own naïveté.

Also, the Darryl Strawberry rookie card that could be yours for a modest $105.00 CDN was, by far, the most expensive card I came across.

Joe DiMaggio figurine: $129.00

My wife’s name is Dorothy and she gets annoyed when people make Wizard of Oz references to her, so when I saw the Oz toys in the back of this display case, I got so excited to annoy her that I looked right past this Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio figurine. Unfortunately, the store didn’t include any historical information with the figurine — the only thing it came with was a box that I wasn’t able to inspect — but I did some digging when I got home and found that this was, most likely, a special commemorative figurine that was released by a company called Hartland New Classics in 1999.

Although I struck out in terms of elusive finds, as someone who once collected baseball figurines, I was very tempted to pick this one up. Thankfully, Dorothy made me reconsider.

Signed Yogi Berra Photo: $249.00
Signed Yogi Berra Photo, alternate angle

In a display case devoted entirely to baseball memorabilia, I came across a bunch of signed photos of old-time players. As you can see from this photograph, there were photos of Don Drysdale, Duke Snider, and, of course, Yogi Berra, among others. To be entirely honest with you, there was a signed Hank Aaron ceramic figurine (partly pictured above to the right of Yogi’s photo) that caught my attention, but it was pretty incredible to see an autographed photo like this in the middle of nowhere. Once again, though, there wasn’t any historical information provided and I’ve had no luck tracking down any further information on the photos.

Derek Jeter World Series Champions Jersey: $195.00

Although this wasn’t technically an antique per se, the crown jewel of my antique excursion was clearly whatever that duck thing is at the bottom of this photo that’s selling for $95.00. Just kidding, obviously—it was the Jeter jersey. Though this one doesn’t carry the same emotional heft that, say, a game-worn jersey would, it’s always nice to think back on simpler times, like when the Yankees were champions and us fans didn’t have a care in the world.

Hey, that reminds me... I have a 2009 World Series champions Phil Hughes jersey collecting dust in my closet. (Yes, I bought a Phil Hughes jersey when I was 17, and no, I am not good with money.) Think I can get nearly $200.00 for it?

Reid Gorecki game-used bat: $79.00

If that Jeter jersey was the crown jewel of my antiquing day, this Reid Gorecki bat is by far my favourite find, if only because of the implausibility of it. If you don’t recognize the name Reid Gorecki, I don’t blame you. He played exactly 31 games in the majors, all for Atlanta in 2009. He was signed to a minor-league deal by the Yankees in 2010 and split time between AA and AAA for two seasons before joining the Atlantic League. What I want to know is: (1) Where did this bat come from? (2) Why is it in the middle of nowhere? and (3) Why did someone previously own it? Fun fact: Gorecki’s career wRC+ is 7.