During his life, neurologist Thomas Newman enjoyed playing golf, spending time with his family, and acquiring some of the rarest and most valuable sports cards on Earth. Sadly, the doctor from Tampa, Fla., died of COVID in January at the age of 73, his wife, Nancy, tells CNN, but he left behind quite a collection: more than 1,000 vintage and modern-day baseball, football, and hockey trading cards, as well as other sports memorabilia, with some items stretching back to the 1880s. The collection, which Nancy Newman says her husband called his "paper babies," was graded and authenticated by Professional Sports Authenticator, the largest collectibles certification company in the world, and is said to be worth $20 million. "During his lifetime, Dr. Newman was a custodian of some of the most historically important cards, the iconic pillars of our hobby," says Joe Orlando, CEO of Collectors Universe, PSA's parent company, in a release.
The most notable item in the collection is a 1933 Babe Ruth PSA 9 trading card from Goudey (PSA's ratings run from 1 to 10, with 9 being "mint"). "We expect it to break the record of $5.2 million for any sports card," JP Cohen, president of the Memory Lane auction house, says, referencing a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card sold earlier this year. Other items in Newman's collection include a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card, World Series programs from the early 1900s, and cards for Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig. Newman's son, Stewart, says his dad started collecting in the '80s to replace the baseball cards he'd collected as a boy that his mom had thrown out. The New York Daily News notes it took an 18-foot U-Haul to cart Newman's collection from Tampa to California, where Memory Lane is based. The public online auction will start June 21 and run through July 10. (Read more baseball cards stories.)