A Tampa doctor who died from COVID-19 complications left his family an extensive sports memorabilia collection estimated to be worth over $20 million.
Dr. Thomas Newman, a neurologist, passed away in January at 73 years old. For the last 40 years of his life, he amassed one of the most valuable sports memorabilia collections in the world, with some items dating back to the 1880s.
His family is putting it all up for auction, including a 1933 Babe Ruth card that auctioneers believe could surpass the $5.2 million world record for a single sports card.
According to his son, Stewart Newman, he traveled each summer across the country with his dad during the 1980s to attend the annual National Sports Collectors Convention.
The only downside to those trips was that he never got a lunch break because his dad was “on the go from the minute we entered the convention hall.”
“There was a lot of opportunity for him to get probably the level of notoriety for the kind of collection that he put together over 40 years that he never had when he was alive because he was kind of quiet about exactly the extent of it though. I’m excited. It’s a good thing for his legacy and it will be a fun process to go through,” he said.
A Tustin, California-based auction house Memory Lane, Inc. will host the auction which will start on June 21 and end on July 10. The estate collection has over 1,000 vintage and modern baseball, football, hockey trading cards, and other sports memorabilia.
“Collectors now will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add a piece of his legacy to their collections,” said Joe Orlando, chief executive officer of Collectors Universe.
According to a press release, the collection was authenticated and graded by Professional Sports Authenticator, one of the world’s biggest sports collectibles certification companies.
“It thrills me to know that collectors that are as serious about it as Tom are going to be able to find things that will give them so much joy. The kind of joy it gave Tom,” said Dr. Newman’s wife, Nancy Newman.
His widow described him as a “wonderful, deep man with so many talents.” Aside from being a family man, Dr. Newman was a talented musician and golfer.
“No one enjoyed collecting more than Tom,” she said. “He jokingly called his cards his ‘paper babies,’ and spent almost every day attending to his collection in one way or another. It gave him such pleasure. The only reason he would ever sell a card was if he had acquired the same card in a higher grade.”
According to a Memory Lane representative, other highlights of the Thomas Newman collection include a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card (Topps PSA 8) in near-mint condition.
This piece is expected to sell for over $1 million. Dr. Newman purchased it in 1986 after it was found that same year in an original case of 1952 Topps baseball cards in Massachusetts.
The collection also included baseball cards from other Hall of Fame players such as Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams, and Cy Young. It also has World Series program books dating back to 1903.
Some of the cards were stored at his medical offices in Tampa, where one room was filled with boxes of still-unopened cards from the 1980s. Dr. Newman’s collection was so massive that it filled an 18-foot U-Haul truck.
“My dad began collecting in the early 1980s starting with baseball cards from 1957 and 1959 when he was ten to twelve years old,” Stewart said. “Those were replacements for the treasured cards of his youth that he kept in shoeboxes as a youngster and that his mom later threw out.”
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