Dr. Thomas Newman, 73, died of COVID-19 complications in January

A doctor who recently died of COVID-19 left his family a fortune thanks to his massive baseball card collection.

Some of the Florida doctor’s memorabilia dates back to the 19th century and the $20 million collection is now going up for auction.

Dr. Thomas Newman, 73, died of COVID-19 complications in January, according to Nancy, his widow.

Prior to his death, he was an avid collector of sports memorabilia and baseball cards, even attending conventions to acquire more of his ‘paper babies,’ as he sometimes called the cards.

Newman’s collection consisted of over 1,000 modern and vintage baseball cards, as well as football and hockey cards.

His memorabilia also included a baseball that was signed by legend Babe Ruth, a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card, baseball cards Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner and Ted Williams, and World Series program books dating back over a century.

Newman’s card and memorabilia collection – which could be worth $20 million – is now being auctioned off 

The Mantle card is particularly valuable, purchased in 1986 in its original case and expected to be valued at over $1 million. 

Newman’s whole collection is now up for auction with Memory Lane Auctions, which will be hosting the bidding beginning on June 21 and ending on July 10 at their Tustin, California auction house.

JP Cohen, the president of the auction house, previewed some of the items up for grabs in the auction.

Newman’s collection consisted of over 1,000 modern and vintage baseball cards, as well as football and hockey cards

Two basketball cards of Kobe Bryant from Newman’s collection, at least one in mint condition

A signed baseball from Babe Ruth, one of the most special pieces of memorabilia

‘One of the 1933 Babe Ruth cards (Goudey #53, PSA 9) in this collection is the finest known of its kind and we expect it to break the record of $5.2 million for any sports card,’ Cohen said,

He added, ‘Prices for rare, historic items have exploded in the collectibles market.’ 

Nancy Newman said that the collection ‘gave him such pleasure. The only reason he would ever sell a card was if he had acquired the same card in a higher grade.’

Stewart, Dr. Newman’s son, also fondly recalled times where the pair would travel together to the National Sports Collectors Convention.

Pictured: Nancy Newman, Dr. Thomas Newman’s widow, called him a ‘wonderful, deep man’

Pictured: Stewart Newman, Thomas Newman’s son, who went to conventions with his father

‘The only downside is that I never got a lunch break because he was on the go from the minute we entered the convention hall,’ Stewart said. 

Stewart further explained the background of his father’s card collecting habit.

‘My dad began collecting in the early 1980s starting with baseball cards from 1957 and 1959 when he was ten to twelve years old,’ Stewart said.

‘Those were replacements for the treasured cards of his youth that he kept in shoeboxes as a youngster and that his mom later threw out.’ 

Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), a division of Collectors Universe, authenticated Newman’s collection.

‘The Thomas Newman collection exhibits the kind of depth and level of quality that are rarely achieved,’ said Joe Orlando, CEO of Collectors Universe.

‘During his lifetime, Dr. Newman was a custodian of some of the most historically important cards, the iconic pillars of our hobby. Collectors now will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add a piece of his legacy to their collections.’

Some unopened packages were stored in boxes at his Tampa medical offices, he was such an avid collector.

Additionally, Cohen went to retrieve the collection in Florida, which required the services of an 18-foot U-Haul truck.

Two basketball cards from the collection depicting Lew Alcindor and Wilt Chamberlain

Two football cards from his collection, each depicting quarterback Johnny Unitas

The auction is set to begin next month and come to a close on July 10

Nancy Newman remembers the man whose collection will now likely set up his family for life. 

‘He was such a wonderful, deep man with so many talents,’ Nancy told CNN, saying he was also a golfer and musician.

Stewart also expressed optimism about the auction to WFLA.

‘There was a lot of opportunity for him to get probably the level of notoriety for the kind of collection that he put together over 40 years that he never had when he was alive because he was kind of quiet about exactly the extent of it though,’ Stewart said.

‘I’m excited. It’s a good thing for his legacy and it will be a fun process to go through.’

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