Published: September 29, 2020
YORK, PENN. – The ultimate prize from the late Dr Paul Muchinsky’s trove of baseball buttons knocked it out of the park at Hake’s September 23-24 pop culture memorabilia auction. The oversize 6-inch button depicting the 1916 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox set a new world auction record for any pinback when it finished at $62,980, including buyer’s premium. “This is not the auction record for just a baseball button, but any button of any genre,” said Hake’s president Alex Winter. It is the only 1916 World Series Championship button known to exist, with graphics depicting and identifying the manager and 24 teammates from the winning Red Sox team. Those players include three future Hall of Famers, including then-21-year-old pitching and batting phenom Babe Ruth.
The button’s crisp, visually dense display is also adorned with art images of baseball equipment and banners that say “World’s Champions 1916” and “Boston Red Sox American League.” The central advertising message on the pinback raises intriguing questions about the button’s origin and intended use. Within a black-outlined circle in capital letters, it says “Drink Alpen Brau – Detroit’s Champion Beer.”
Paul Muchinsky spent years scrupulously researching why the Red Sox would appear on a button endorsing a Detroit brewery, but the mystery was never solved. Winter said he thinks the button’s size suggests it may have been a sample made to illustrate a presentation to the brewery. “It’s the largest baseball button that had ever been made up to its time. It might have been produced in that size to maximize the detail, which is important because of the images of the players and manager.”
Any Red Sox Championship button made around the time of World War I is exceedingly rare, but the 1916 World Series button – the only one known from that year – is unquestionably the last word in baseball pinbacks. “Most serious collectors of baseball buttons would know of this button because it’s pictured on the back cover of Dr Muchinsky’s 2004 reference book Baseball Pinback Buttons,” said Winter. “It was considered such a valuable asset, it was actually placed in a trust and not to be sold until 2037.” Recently Dr Muchinsky’s family updated that decision. “The first part [of the sale] was incredible, many records were set,” said Winter. A full review of the two-day event will follow.
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