Doctor Who Lost COVID-19 Battle Leaves Family Rare Babe Ruth Card and Collection Worth More Than $20 Million

Dr. Thomas Newman's collection, which be began building in the 1980s, includes an ultra-rare 1933 Babe Ruth card estimated to be worth close to $5 million that will go to auction on June 21.
Dr. Thomas Newman's collection, which he began building in the 1980s, includes an ultra-rare 1933 Babe Ruth card, similar to that pictured above. Obituary; Getty Images

Dr. Thomas Newman's collection, which he began building in the 1980s, includes an ultra-rare 1933 Babe Ruth card estimated to be worth close to $5 million that will go to auction on June 21.

A Florida doctor who died after battling COVID-19 left his family an extensive baseball card and sports memorabilia collection he amassed over decades that includes an ultra-rare 1933 Babe Ruth card that will go to auction on June 21 through Memory Lane Inc. Dr. Thomas Newman's entire collection, which includes more than 1,000 cards, is expected to go for more than $20 million next month, experts say. 

Newman, a neurologist from Tampa, began collecting cards in the early 1980s, first building a collection of cards from 1957 and 1959, cards printed when he was between 10 and 12 years old, his son 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," Stewart Newman said.

Newman loved building his collection, his family said. 

"No one enjoyed collecting more than Tom," his widow, Nancy Newman, said in a press release by Memory Lane Inc. "He jokingly called his cards his 'paper babies,' and spent almost every day attending to his collection in one way or another. It 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."

Newman's estate includes more than 1,000 vintage and modern baseball, football and hockey trading cards and other sports memorabilia, some of which date back to the 1880s.

Included in the estate is a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth card that has a PSA grade of Mint 9, the only card of that version on record with a grade that high, ESPN reported. That card alone could bring in close to $5 million, Memory Lane CEO J.P. Cohen said. In its entirety, Newman's collection is estimated to be worth over $20 million.

"I've been doing this for over 20 years, and we have handled some amazing collections, a lot of Honus Wagner cards and a lot of big dollar collections," Cohen told ESPN. "By far, this is one of the bigger ones we've handled. From a single auction standpoint, this will be our biggest auction we've ever put on."

Newman's collection also included Babe Ruth's 1916 Sporting News rookie card and "a near-perfect 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card (Topps PSA 8) that is expected to sell for more than $1 million. He purchased it in 1986 after it was discovered that year in an original case of 1952 Topps baseball cards in Massachusetts."

The collection also includes Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams and Cy Young cards, as well as World Series program books dating back to 1903, Memory Lane Inc. wrote.

"Some of Dr. Newman’s collection was stored at his Tampa medical offices where one room was filled with boxes of still-unopened cards from the 1980s," the release said. 


The collection has been authenticated and graded by the world’s largest sports collectibles certification company, Professional Sports Authenticator.

"The Thomas Newman collection exhibits the kind of depth and level of quality that are rarely achieved," Joe Orlando, Chief Executive Officer of Collectors Universe, said in a statement. "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."

"If Dr. Newman paid $500 for a card he really wanted and a week later someone offered him $5,000, he’d turn it down," Cohen said. "He just had an unquenchable thirst for sports collectibles. He loved it all".

Newman was 73 when he died from complications related to COVID-19 on Jan. 29, 2021. He is survived by his wife, their two children, two grandchildren, his brother and his sister, "all of whom loved him so unconditionally they didn't even mind that he would tell the same jokes repeatedly, as he would laugh just as hard the 100th time telling it as he did the first," his obituary read. 

"At the time of his death, Tom was managing partner of Neurological Specialties and was actively practicing with his neurological partner, Brody Henkel, MD," his memorial said. "An avid sports fan with musical gifts, his great loves in life, aside from his family, were playing the trombone in the Tampa Community Band, entertaining family and friends on the piano, playing golf (especially with his longtime foursome), the Cleveland Indians, the Buccaneers, spending time with family and friends at his second home in Lake Las Vegas and dog Haley.

"Tom had a kindness and infectious spirit that was beloved by all," it continued.

The online public auction will begin June 21 and end on July 10.

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