Considering the prevalence of World Series press pins throughout the 1910s and 1920s, it's surprising that the tradition of All-Star Game press pins didn't get started until the sixth Mid-Summer Classic in 1938. Even then, it was something of a lark, and the practice didn't actually take hold as an official annual tradition until 1946. No wonder that so few of these inaugural relics have survived. Unlike the durable construction of WS pins—which were intended for multi-day usage and long-term safekeeping—Cincy's Crosley Field pass was an inexpensively produced celluloid pinback. Mere ephemera to be used and discarded like a name badge at a school mixer. Which makes it all the more miraculous that this one has endured the past 80-plus years at all, let alone so well. Not only does the delicate 1-1/2"-diameter piece boast unused NM condition, it also retains the perfectly intact paper insert for manufacturer Bastian Bros. of New York. One could hardly imagine a finer example! How thrilling it must have been to enter the press booth on July 6, 1938; hear the hometown crowd go wild for Reds hurler Johnny Vander Meer on the heels of his back-to-back no-hitters; and then watch Vander Meer bring home a victory for the senior circuit. As a point of reference on value, the record high price for a 1938 A.S. press pin appears to be $8,500+ for Leo Durocher's copy in a 1998 Christie's auction.
Please Note: While every press pin in this collection is completely original, we cannot guarantee that every threaded-post reverse carries the original backing nut. In some cases, the nut may be a replacement of the exact original style, in some cases it may be a replacement of a similar style.
Barrie Sullivan Press Pin Collection
The hobby lost a true original when Barrie Sullivan passed on in 2014. It's hard to believe that over 5 years have already gone by since the influential collector and mentor to many said his goodbyes. Here was a man who ate, slept and breathed baseball; who was there on the front lines of the emerging memorabilia industry in the early 70s; who attended the very first National Sports Collectors Convention in 1980; and who proudly showed off some cards to his beloved wife Sandy on their first date! Barrie caught the baseball bug as a kid in Boston, worshipping the Red Sox and Teddy Ballgame. He spoked and flipped the cards of his favorite players and also sent away for their autographs. Later, after serving in the Army, becoming a lawyer and moving to Colorado, Barrie expanded his collecting taste to game-used jerseys, game-used equipment and, as seen here, World Series press pins.
This is easily one of the finest press-pin collections ever assembled, let alone ever offered at auction. It surely would've delighted another press-pin pioneer that we lost in recent years, Jim Johnston, who literally wrote the book on press pins and thus contributed to their rise in popularity and value. Here's how Jim framed the collecting sector and its history in James Beckett's 1980s price guides: "The first press pin dates to the 1911 World Series where the press box, then as now, was intended to be a limited-access area. Nevertheless the forceful Giant manager, John McGraw, had a history of violating that domain with his entourage of Irish cronies...[T]he Athletics anticipated the problem. The club ordered and dispensed a very visible lapel pin to writers with legitimate credentials. The idea was adopted by subsequent Series participants, and with the exception of the 1918 Cubs, each host in the World Series since 1912 has issued a press badge. Though early on distribution of press pins was a requisite encumbrance, their intent today has become a symbolic gesture of welcome to the media."
Barrie, Jim and other hobby luminaries may have left us, but their legacies remain strong in an elite collection such as this, which Barrie dutifully compiled over several decades. "He just loved a touch of greatness," said Kerry Sullivan of his brother's passion for collectibles and for the national pastime. Likewise for those of us who knew Barrie and were touched by his greatness.