BALTIMORE – Jim Palmer said he no longer needs trophies as mementos of his Hall of Fame career, so the former Baltimore Orioles ace has put his three Cy Young Awards and two of his four Gold Gloves up for auction.
Palmer, currently a TV analyst for the Orioles, did not say he was financially hurting. He's just looking to make some money by selling some of the hardware he received during his 19-year run in the major leagues.
"At this juncture of my life, I would rather concern myself with the education of my grandchildren," Palmer said. "I also have a stepson, (15-year-old) Spencer, who is autistic and will need special care for the rest of his life. My priorities have changed."
A portion of the profits will also be given to the autism project of Palm Beach County.
Hunt Auctions is taking bids online and over the phone through July 8 for the Cy Young Awards that Palmer won in 1973, 1975 and 1976, as well as the Gold Gloves he earned in 1976 and 1979. The live auction will take place on July 10.
Each of the Cy Young Award trophies, given to the best pitcher in each league by vote, is expected to garner between $60,000 and $80,000. The Gold Gloves are expected to receive bids up to $15,000.
"Certainly, when you talk about Cy Young Awards and Gold Gloves, these are the elite level of personal awards," said David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions.
Palmer is the latest in a long line of Hall of Fame stars to put items up for auction, and his reasoning is not necessarily unique.
"Joe DiMaggio did it. So did Ted Williams," Hunt said. "They lived the moments, and their accomplishments are really the reward. It's not all about dollars and cents, either. They want to make sure the items go to homes where people enjoy them.
"With Jim, we got together and he just decided it was the right time."
Palmer realized his trophies and popularity could be used for charitable gain several years ago when in was Colorado at a fund raiser for cystic fibrosis.
"I donated a Gold Glove, a Cy Young, a round of golf at Caves Country Club and four seats to an Oriole game. And this was back when the Orioles were good — or better than they are now," he said. "There was a gentleman who had a daughter with cystic fibrosis who paid $39,000 for that and never ever took it. It was for the cause."
Until recently, Palmer kept the three Cy Young Awards on a wall in his Florida home. The Gold Gloves were in storage, mainly because his wife, Susan, didn't want them in their home.
"Gold doesn't go with my wife's design," Palmer said. "She has a design shop for women's wear in Palm Beach, and she doesn't do gold."
Palmer, 66, says he doesn't need polished pieces of hardware to remind him of what he accomplished over 19 seasons.
"You can't erase the memories of 1973 or 1975 when I came back from my arm injury, when I had 10 shutouts and had to win the last day of the year to beat Catfish Hunter to win a Cy Young and get the ERA down to 2.09," he said. "To me, those are things that happened in the past. I'm really lucky to remember all of them. Whether I have the awards or not, it's not going to take those memories away."
Palmer's recollection of the four straight Gold Gloves he received for fielding prowess at his position is just as vivid.
"I was a good fielder to get those, but I didn't win it until Jim Kaat went over to the National League," he said, referring to Kaat's 14-year run of Gold Gloves with the Minnesota Twins.
Palmer hopes his awards end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate them as much as he once did.
"While I am immensely proud to have received these awards, that chapter of my life has passed," he said. "I am aware of people that love baseball and would treasure items like mine. Hopefully, these awards will bring happiness into baseball fans' lives and allow me to make a difference in my family's future."