Years ago, when camp consultant Allie Tarantino was flipping through a magazine, he came across a familiar name: Mark Zuckerberg. He rummaged through boxes of memorabilia in his basement, running his fingers over old photos, newspapers and bus schedules before finding a baseball card that showed a very young Zuckerberg grinning in a red jersey and holding a bat . Three decades later, Tarantino is hoping an autographed baseball card featuring one of the world’s richest men will fetch a fortune when it’s auctioned next month.
“It’s like my version of a midlife crisis. I’m 50 years old — what do I do with that?” Tarantino joked. According to Tarantino – who still works that summer at Elmwood Day Camp in Westchester, New York – Zuckerberg, then 8 or 9 years old, offered the card he had printed 30 years earlier as a parting gift.
“As someone who collects things, it’s always very difficult to part with what you have in your collection. But I’ve always been oddly curious how the public would react to something that’s an odd combination of pop culture and memorabilia,” he said.
The card will also be auctioned off as a digital collector’s item — a so-called NFT, or non-fungible token, which has become a popular way to own memorabilia. Zuckerberg covered the auction on Instagram Thursday, partly to promote NFT technology in general, but also to promote NFTs on his company’s platforms.
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Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, recently introduced support for digital collectibles.
“We will be auctioning the card for a unique NFT of the card,” said Stephen Fishler, founder of ComicConnect, which is auctioning the items. He called it “a virtual steel cage match” where the physical card was bid in US dollars and the NFT in the Ethereum blockchain currency.
Fishler said he wasn’t sure of the value of the items because they weren’t the usual types of memorabilia that go up for auction. In recent years there has been a lot of interest in collectibles featuring athletes. Rare baseball cards have sold for millions of dollars. A mint condition baseball card owned by Mickie Mantle is expected to fetch $10 million when auctioned later this month.
Tarantino, now a 5th grade teacher in Connecticut, held onto the Zuckerberg baseball card as he stored it in his basement, not knowing that the kid would one day become a household name and be responsible for one of the greatest advances in technology – or time wasters – in social networks.
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“I’m a sentimentalist at heart. When people give me something, I hold onto it, I’ve always been like this,” Tarantino said Wednesday night. “He was definitely a kid that you knew and remembered. I was the kind of kid who just blended into the background. He wasn’t one of those kids,” he said. Zuckerberg is already larger than life, Tarantino said. “On the back of his card he has a batting average of .920 — which is almost impossible in baseball. Even as a small child, he had big goals.”
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