Summer, 2020 Auction - Closes August 29
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/30/2020

If you are of a certain vintage, one of your favorite baseball cards is most certainly the 1976 Topps card #564, picturing Kurt Bevacqua of the Milwaukee Brewers blowing an enormous bubble, the phrase "1975 Joe Garagiola/Bazooka Bubble Gum Blowing Champ" emblazoned above the image.  The card reverse details a tournament-style bracket where a representative from each team participated in the bubble gum-blowing tournament eventually won by Bevacqua in a contest against Philadelphia's Johnny Oates.  The tournament winner would receive $1,000 and a year's supply of gum, along with a $1,000 donation to the charity of the player's choice (and more gum).  The culmination of the event was memorialized on a short television program currently viewable on YouTube.

Bevacqua's Baseball-Reference page lists him as a pinch-hitter, third baseman and second baseman with a career WAR of -3.9 and a lifetime batting average of .236 in a 15-year career during which he was rarely considered a starter.  But for some of us, he is a legend - the winner of the famous bubble gum blowing champion, immortalized on one of Topps' most fun baseball cards - blowing an impossibly large bubble.

It is this card that cause us to immediately recognize the "bubble gauge" when presented with it, an obvious relic from the 1975 contest. A deep dive into the outstanding Topps Archives blog maintained by Topps scholar David Hornish reveales that back in 2012, the original calipers, which were made of wood, featured on the card were discovered in a New York restaurant, owned by the friend of a former Topps employee.  For the contest, however, each of the ballclubs were provided with a printed set of rules, which stated "The size of the blown bubbles will be measured by a specially designed set of calipers supplied by Topps Chewing Gum.  It further stated that each team's bubbles should be "measured by a responsible person, such as a team executive, a local dignitary, a local sports writer or editor, a local TV or radio broadcaster or a local clergyman."

In the case of the Baltimore Orioles, the judging was handled by the team PR Director Robert Brown, but Orioles broadcaster and noted collector Ted Patterson was never far away, and it is into Patterson's collection that these bubble calipers found their way.  The calipers measure 22" from end to end and are constructed of heavier, printed cardboard, two pieces held together with a metal pin that allows the bat-shaped measuring tool to be separated to accommodate an increasing bubble.  Inch-by-inch measurements are marked on a baseball-shaped center piece.  A string attached to a hole punched into the baseball suggests that the calipers were hung from something, and initially caused us to believe they may have been part of a retail display, but the fact that we have found just one other example of these calipers (thanks to Dave's blog) leads us to believe they were sent to the participating ballclubs, one to each club, and most have long disappeared.

The calipers are in poor condition, with areas of paper loss, foxing, heavy creasing, and significant reinforcement with clear tape, but that's really beside the point.  We have no idea what the final value could be - it's possible that Topps collectors and historians could recognize the rarity and importance of the piece, and bid strong for an item that, to our knowledge, has never been made available for sale before.  It's also possible that it doesn't generate the kind of enthusiasm that we had when we discovered it.  Still, the rarity and utter coolness of the piece, their place in Topps' history, and their role in etching Kurt Bevacqua into baseball card immortality, make this one of our favorite items that we have ever offered. 

Incredible 1975 Topps Bazooka Bubble-Blowing Championship Bubble Measuring Tool!  Incredible 1975 Topps Bazooka Bubble-Blowing Championship Bubble Measuring Tool!  Incredible 1975 Topps Bazooka Bubble-Blowing Championship Bubble Measuring Tool!  Incredible 1975 Topps Bazooka Bubble-Blowing Championship Bubble Measuring Tool!
Incredible 1975 Topps Bazooka Bubble-Blowing Championship Bubble Measuring Tool!
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Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $800
Number Bids: 4
Auction closed on Sunday, August 30, 2020.
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