Ernie Banks’ 1968 jersey on auction block

SHARE Ernie Banks’ 1968 jersey on auction block
SHARE Ernie Banks’ 1968 jersey on auction block

The jersey hung above Randy Berman’s crib.

When Berman was in college, it hung above his “Kegerator.”

Until three months ago, it was still hanging above the cool-beer dispenser in the 36-year-old bachelor’s Rogers Park apartment.

But Berman, who goes by the nickname “Boomer,” has finally decided to part ways with the jersey, once worn by Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

The 1968 garment is on the auction block.

Berman, who works in public relations, says he’s not in the kind of income bracket to own something so valuable.

“I don’t have that sort of lifestyle,” he said Thursday, as bidding on an online sports auction site surpassed $104,000.

The jersey was a welcome-to-the-world gift in 1978 from Berman’s uncle, Jeff Berman. He was a coach at the Scottsdale, Ariz., Boys & Girls Club, which was next door to the stadium where the Cubs went for spring training. While Banks was getting warmed up for the season, his kids hung out at the Boys & Girls Club, where Jeff Berman coached them. The Banks jersey was Mr. Cub’s way of saying thank you.

Randy Berman, who was born and raised in Arizona, got the jersey — No. 14 — on his birthday, Dec. 14, 1978. And for most of his life, as he traveled from place to place — sticking the framed jersey in the back of moving vans — he had no idea how much it was worth.

Berman, a lifelong Cubs fan, moved to Chicago about two years, taking the jersey with him. He says he was watching a sports memorabilia show last year when, out of curiosity, he let the show’s producers know he had the jersey. He later made an appearance on the show and was told his jersey could fetch $150,000 at auction.

“I was flabbergasted,” Berman said.

Three months ago, Berman took the jersey out of its frame, folded it up, put it in a “Ziploc”-like plastic bag and flew it out to the auction house, SCP Auctions.

“I put it in the middle of the shirts I was going on vacation with,” he said.

Now, only two naked hooks remain above the Kegerator.

Berman said he has mixed feelings about selling something that’s been with him all of his life, but he said his uncle isn’t sore about it.

“He’s been saying that it’s a gift to Boomer. So whatever he wants to do with it, is up to him,” Berman said.

The auction house sold a 1969 Banks home “game-worn” jersey in 2014 for $151,652, said Terry Melia, SCP Auctions spokesman.

“It’s extremely rare to find a Banks game-used jersey in the first place, but to sell two of them within a 12-month period is quite extraordinary,” Melia said.

To register to bid, go to scpauctions.com. Bidding closes at 7 p.m. Saturday Chicago time.

Berman said he plans to save some of the money and perhaps give the rest to his three sisters and their combined seven nieces and nephews.

As for the empty spot above his Kegerator, he’s considering replacing it with a framed photograph of him, his father and Ernie Banks from when Berman was just seven years old.

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