An ‘Interesting conversation piece,’ indeed!
Collectors’ Corner: by Chris Wood
When I started collecting Packers programs about 25 years ago, it began as an exercise in wanting to get a program from the first game I had ever attended as a kid with my Dad. The game, I remembered, was against the Minnesota Vikings in the fall of 1966.
Once I found that one, I decided to try and find the program from the first game my older brother, Pat, had gone to with Dad the previous year. It had been against the Bears and when I procured it, it ended up being a great Christmas gift that year, which he really appreciated! Soon thereafter, it became something I did for people I met here and there who were true-blue Packers fans and I knew would really appreciate it.
One of the highlights of collecting programs for me happened about seven or eight years ago, when my wife and I were flying back to Green Bay from Minneapolis. There were some Packers fans waiting to board that flight who were coming in for the game the next day from afar, and we were all talking football in the boarding area as we awaited the process to begin. We hit it off extremely well with one young couple from Montana – Jesse and Jill Laslovich – and then met up with them at the game the following day to have a beer together.
As it turned out, Jesse was an up-and-coming State Senator from “Big Sky country” and his father had been a Packers fan from way back. He told us how his Dad had always talked about finally having the chance to come up to Lambeau Field to see a game in 1974, which was against the Buffalo Bills, and how special that experience had been to him. After going our separate ways, I began looking for that program and found it about a month later. We sent it to them as a Christmas gift to give to his father for which they were very grateful. It warmed my heart to hear about how much it had meant to his Dad when Jesse presented it to him that Christmas, and made me think that these are the moments we Packers fans live for!
I had also looked for and found two programs from the ‘40s and ‘50s that two members of the Packers organization had mentioned in a newspaper article as being the first games each one of them had ever attended. The two were both an intrinsic part of the referendum being passed 15 years ago, so I sent each of them the copy of their respective first game programs as a gift, to thank them for their efforts upon the referendum being successfully passed! As a proud member of “Team Lambeau,” it had just seemed to me to be the right thing to do!
As time went on, I began to branch out and look for singles and albums (records) from the ‘60s to the ‘80s about the team, as well as historical and related books about the Packers, especially the older ones dating back to and before the Lombardi era.
I was mainly interested in the long-term, colorful, extensive and truly amazing story of the smallest, most unusual and unlikely franchise in all of professional sports, which will never happen again anywhere. Additionally, I picked up an autographed helmet, football or jersey every now and then that had special significance to me.
So when Brett Favre finally decided to retire and the Packers took him at his word, I felt like I needed to get one of those autographed Favre jerseys which could be seen everywhere around town. I figured soon enough they were going to become much scarcer and difficult to procure.
I called a friend who dealt in Packers memorabilia on a smaller scale to ask what the going price was for a bona-fide NFL issued Green Bay Packers #4 Favre autographed jersey. When she told me “eight hundred dollars,” my first thought was “how ridiculous!” but I knew that was what it was going to take to obtain one.
So, I decided to try and find something different that was still a Favre autographed Packers jersey but not the standard Packers green “home” garment that it seemed like everybody had at the time.
When I asked if she had anything that wasn’t the standard issue, she said she did. She showed me one she had picked up at an area church picnic during the summer of ‘92 shortly after Favre had arrived in town and was an unknown. Not knowing who the new backup QB to Don Majkowski was at the time, nobody at all had been interested enough to bid on it at the picnic.
It was a white, “away” jersey and had a small tear on the front indicating that it had been worn by him either at practice or in a game. It was priced at $800. Since it was autographed and so different, it appealed to my sensibilities of the unusual and individual, so I didn’t hesitate to buy it thinking if nothing else, “it would be an interesting conversation piece!” It became one of those items that got stashed away in the basement and would not be discussed with any family members except on an “as needs to know” basis for the next seven years.
Last month, the Second Annual Green Bay Football History Event was held at Hagemeister Park Restaurant in Green Bay. In addition to the regular program of historical presentations on how football initially started in Green Bay in 1897, it offered the opportunity to have Packers items appraised. I decided to see if the jersey had any real value, now that Favre had been inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame and was about to have his number retired. Packers artifacts expert Chris Nerat from Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Tex., was giving appraisals and looked it over very carefully.
“Five thousand dollars on the low end to ten thousand on the high end,” he said.
“Five to ten thousand dollars,” I thought, “are you kidding me?!” He wasn’t.
And then, “whew, who woulda’ thunk…” (but I’m sure not complaining!)
The next steps are to figure out specifics on the history of it by trying to photo-match it with action photos to determine when it was worn by Favre. When that has been done, we’ll have it authenticated by another expert in Packers jerseys, all of which we’ll be doing over the next couple weeks. We’ll report those findings here in the next issue — stay tuned!