The focus of the massive online auction of Elgin Baylor’s sports collectibles has been his NBA championship ring, because most people didn’t know he had one. My pal Dave McKenna has the definitive piece on this issue, and it’s fascinating.
But there are also tons of Washington-centric pieces in Baylor’s collection, and not just the commemorative gift he once received from Jack Kent Cooke. Baylor is on the very short list of the best basketball players D.C. has ever produced, and the collection reflects that.
There is this, “a collection of four basketball trophies presented to Elgin Baylor for his accomplishments on the basketball court during his years at Spingarn High School.” And this, a signed Spingarn High t-shirt. And this, a D.C. Rec Department trophy for being the high scorer. And this, a Spingarn alumni award. And this, an award from the Pigskin Club of Washington. And several other similar items.
For my money, though, the coolest D.C. item might be the trophy he received from the Touchdown Club of Washington in 1972, the famous “Timmie” award, with a “Local Boy Makes Good” inscription. (The trophy says “1971″ on it, but it was presented in January of 1972.) The current bid is $400, and I don’t know that I love it that much, but it’s a treasure.
At the award dinner, event emcee Howard Cosell had some sort of strange interaction with Baylor.
“There he stands, straight and tall, handsome as ever, the great Elgin Baylor, a kid from the streets of Washington who made it on his own terms,” Cosell barked at the Sheraton-Park hotel reception, as Baylor talked to The Post’s Leonard Shapiro. “Look at him there,” Cosell continued. “Ah, that Elgin Baylor. What a man.”
“I think I know who that is,” Baylor said, then went on talking.
“Cosell, finally aware that Baylor was simply ignoring him, walked away and was all but forgotten,” Shapiro wrote.
Even then, Baylor was being asked whether the Lakers were better off without him. As McKenna writes, Baylor has famously declined to defend himself from such charges for decades, but he did this month.
(Also, I wrote a bit more about the history of Touchdown Club of Washington and the Timmie Award here.)
(McKenna also details one item left out of the Baylor auction.
After a question about what mementos he’s keeping out of the auction, Baylor can only come up with a trophy he got as a 14-year-old new to organized basketball for being named MVP in a summer league in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
“I guess somebody there thought I could play,” he says. “I guess everybody else in the league must have just started out playing, too. That’s the first thing I ever won. I cherish that.”
Which is a pretty cool item to keep.)