Nearly 55 Years Ago, Nicklaus Got His Start with an Unspectacular Payday

This gold Rolex wristwatch presented to Jack Nicklaus for his 1980 U.S. Open victory realized $33,460 at an August 2013 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

On Jan. 8, 1962, a chubby, 21-year-old pro golfer picked up a check for $33.33 after tying for 50th (last place) with Billy Maxwell and Don Massengale in the Los Angeles Open.

The tournament was played at Rancho Park in West Los Angeles.

Thus began the pro career of the best golfer of all time – Jack Nicklaus, who went on to win 18 Major Championships (the record) … six Masters, five PGA, four U.S. Opens and three British Championships (The Open). He also won two U.S. Amateur Championships.

He would go on to win 73 PGA tournaments and 10 on the Champions (Seniors) before retiring in 2005.

His pro winnings were $9,102,462 and in 2004 he was named the Golfer of the Century/Millennium. Golf Magazine named him Golfer of the Century for 1888-1998.

On that sunny day in California in 1962, I had decided to follow Phil Rodgers, who shot 62 (9 under par) and won the tournament by 9 strokes … 21 better than Nicklaus.

Who knew?

P.S. Billy Casper was the first golfer to win more than $200k in one year ($205,168 in 1968). In 2015, caddy Steve Williams earned $1.27 million.

P.P.S. Since the prize money for last place in 1962 was $100 and Maxwell, Massengale and Nicklaus each got $33.33, what happened to the extra cent? Yes, I know it takes a curious mind to think of this, but you have to pay attention to the small things.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

As We Pay Tribute to Scalia, Let’s Recall Landmark Appointment Case

After he was defeated in the 1800 presidential election, John Adams retired to Massachusetts as a gentleman farmer. A letter he wrote and signed 13 years later realized $46,875 at an October 2014 Heritage Auction.

By Jim O’Neal

The landmark case known as Marbury vs. Madison arose after the bitter 1800 election when Vice President Thomas Jefferson defeated President John Adams, tied with and Aaron Burr and then eventually won when Alexander Hamilton swung the New York boys to him on the 36th ballot.

A bitter Adams made a last-minute attempt to pack the judiciary with Federalists by appointing 16 new circuit judges and 42 new Justices of the Peace for the District of Columbia. However, four of the new justices, including William Marbury, did not get their commissions before Adams’ last day in office.

Secretary of State James Madison refused to give the four men their commissions, so Marbury asked the Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering Madison to do it. This put Chief Justice John Marshall (newly appointed by Adams) in a delicate situation. If the Supremes issued the writ, Madison might simply refuse and the Court had no means to enforce compliance.

Alternatively, if the Court did not, then he was risking surrendering judicial power to Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party (later to become the Democratic Party).

Marshall decided there was no middle ground and that left the choice of either declaring the Constitution to be superior and binding, or allowing the legislature to be an entity of unchecked power. Since the nation had established a written Constitution with fundamental principles to bind it in the future, it had to be both superior and binding law. And if the Constitution was the superior law, then an act “repugnant” must be invalid.

The decision was to discharge Marbury’s action because the Court did not have original jurisdiction, and the Judiciary Act of 1789, which Marbury argued was the basis of his petition, was unconstitutional. The Court found the Constitution specifically enumerated cases where the Court had both original and appellate jurisdiction. The Court also concluded a writ of mandamus was unconstitutional and void.

In more recent times, the Court has asserted a broad judicial review power and the role as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution. Once a law is declared unconstitutional, the courts simply decline to enforce it. Judicial review was once controversial. Even Judge Learned Hand felt it was inconsistent with the separation of power. However, “Marbury” served to make the judiciary equal to the executive and legislative branches.

Most scholars and historians give full credit to Chief Justice Marshall for solidifying this principle of an equal tripartite government structure that has served us well for 200-plus years.

Author Harlow Giles Unger goes even further in his 2014 biography (John Marshall: The Chief Justice who Saved the Nation), where he claims Marshall turned into a bulwark against presidential and congressional tyranny and saved American Democracy.

I tend to disagree since the process for selecting members has been politicized to the point the Court seems to be simply an extension of which party controls the lever of power. I suspect we will have a chance to see this phenomenon several times in the next four to eight years as turnover increases.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].


‘Black Death’ is a Grim Reminder: Never Trust a Dirty Rat

A Folio Society 1999 edition of Philip Ziegler’s The Black Death went to auction in November 2012.

By Jim O’Neal

In five short years beginning in 1347, one-third of Europe – 25 million people – died of the bubonic plague. Many villages and towns lost 80 percent of their populations. A world that had just emerged from the Dark Ages and was moving into a new era was, suddenly, pockmarked with deserted farms, collapsed churches and zombie-like survivors.

Bubonic plague changed world history and mankind in ways that linger to this day. All subsequent epidemics – small pox, cholera, influenza and AIDS – are grim reminders of the terror of the “Black Death” and the specter of a world strewn with bodies and people defenseless against an invisible killer.

Although it wasn’t known at the time, the cause was a rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis (X. cheopis), a ravenous creature that lived on black rats and other rodents. X. cheopis carried the virulent plague bacillus and it came in two forms, both deadly to humans.

One was from direct contact via a flea bite, which was followed by a black purple bruising and a mortality rate of 60 percent in as little as five to seven days. The predominant form was pneumonic, which spread from person to person by air, infecting the lungs, with death in two to three days.

It had started deep in Asia, where China was in a war with the Mongols that devastated great swaths of the countryside. Infected rats, no longer able to find food in the forests, headed to populated areas, where the disease spread rapidly.

By the 1330s, China had lost 35 million people out of 125 million. Then X. cheopis began to travel with traders across Mongolia and Central Asia. In 1345, the plague hit the lower Volga River, followed by the Caucasus and Crimea before finally arriving in Italy in the summer of 1347.

The disease arrived in London in November and killed one-third to half of the total population within three days. The population of England and Wales was 6 million people.

After a quiet winter, it sprung up again in 1349, burning through England to Scotland, leaping to Ireland and crossing the sea to Scandinavia. After devastating Moscow in 1852, it exhausted itself on the barren/empty Russian Steppes.

The plague returned in 1362 in numerous, smaller recurrences until the 1600s. Another wave of plague swept through Asia in the 19th century and it was then that the role of both X. cheopis and the Y. pestis bacteria was discovered.

Although the last plague pandemic was contained, hundreds of plague cases are reported each year since X. cheopis still exists in remote wild rodents, perhaps with yet another strategy to plague us. Despite the advent of curative antibiotics, Black Death is still lurking … somewhere.

Do you know what’s in your attic?

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Ray Chapman, Burleigh Grimes, Gaylord Perry and the Notorious Spitball

Ray Chapman appears on this 1916 M101-4 Altoona Tribune baseball card.

By Jim O’Neal

In August 1920, Ray Chapman became the first and only baseball fatality when he was hit in the head by a spitball thrown by Carl Mays.

The spitball was officially banned in 1920, but 17 active spitball pitchers were exempted for the balance of their careers. Eight were in the National League and nine in the American League.

The last legal spitball was thrown by Burleigh Grimes of the Pittsburg Pirates on Sept. 10, 1934.

However, the practice continues yet today in a variety of very clever ways, including petroleum jelly and other techniques to mar the surface of the ball. Some use nail files, belt buckles, etc.

Several times these practices have been confirmed after a player retires and recounts his career in baseball articles or biographies.

Perhaps the most famous was Me and the Spitter: An Autobiographical Confession, written by the great pitcher Gaylord Perry, in which he describes his particular tricks.

Perry is the first pitcher to ever win the Cy Young Award in both leagues … 1972 AL Cleveland and 1978 NL San Diego. His record also includes five-time All Star … five-time 20-game winner … 314 games won with 3,534 strikeouts … Hall of Fame in 1991.

Most pitchers are generally poor batters and Perry was particularly inept. In his sophomore year in 1963, his manager Alvin Dark famously predicted, “They will put a man on the moon before he hits a home run.”

On July 20, 1969, one hour after Neil Armstrong landed Apollo 11 on the moon, Gaylord Perry hit a home run.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ was Battle Cry of the French Revolution

This note signed by Marie Antoinette realized $7,170 at an October 2006 auction.

By Jim O’Neal

In 1788, France was ruled by a monarchy, aristocracy and clergy who lived in luxury, while many of the commoners starved. The Storming of the Bastille is now celebrated as the heroic uprising that started the French Revolution.

It occurred on July 14, 1789, and symbolizes the liberation from the French Crown’s oppressive reign of poverty and crushing taxes. When the mob broke through the gates of the infamous jail, the garrison capitulated. But the prison was almost empty. Unknown to the attackers, the government had scheduled the building to be demolished and only six prisoners were left in its cells.

Four of the prisoners were forgers and the other two insane.

Earlier, when King Louis XVI had assumed the crown (1794), the country was in a major economic crisis, with a staggering national debt and a tax base that was in decline. The Catholic Church (which owned 10 percent of all land) and the nobility took advantage of tax loopholes, leaving the tax burden to poor urban workers. Apparently, economic inequality is not a new situation.

The incident that sparked the Storming was the dismissal of Finance Minister Jacques Necker, who sympathized with the commoners. At dawn on July 14, they broke into Hôtel des Invalides and captured 28,000 muskets and 10 cannons, but the ammunition had been moved to the Bastille … all 20,000 rounds.

Thus, the Bastille was not only a target for ammunition, it represented a symbol of long-standing autocratic political power and social systems. At 2 p.m., someone opened fire and the mob started pouring in.

Later, as the French Revolution went careening out of control, thousands of nobels were executed on any pretext and eventually King Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie (“Let them eat cake”) Antoinette, were executed. This set off shock waves all over Europe and nearby nations feared these wildly progressive ideas would spread like wildfire.

During the next decade, France would be radically transformed as widespread mob violence ruled. This “Reign of Terror” would forever tarnish the ideals of the French Revolution. But yet today, Bastille Day is celebrated annually as the day the French people won their freedom.

Vive la France!

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

James Garfield Unique Among American Presidents

This autographed James Garfield cabinet card, dated a month before the president’s assassination, realized nearly $4,500 at a June 2010 auction.

By Jim O’Neal

James Garfield was the last of the Log Cabin Presidents (meaning he was born in one), and in 1880 he was simultaneously a member of the House, a senator-elect and the president-elect. He remains the only person to ever have this unique distinction.

However, he had not gone to the 1880 Republican convention seeking the nomination. Instead, his specific intent was to nominate John Sherman, who was President Rutherford B. Hayes’ Secretary of the Treasury. In fact, Garfield made the formal nominating speech and waited while Ulysses S. Grant and James G. Blaine battled it out. After 35 ballots, Garfield himself became the consensus candidate … and then won the election.

Sherman was eager to become president, but after three failed attempts he gave up. His brother was William Tecumseh Sherman, the general who made the famous “March to the Sea” from Atlanta to Savannah in a scorched earth (total war) campaign that was devastating to Georgia and the Confederacy. His telegram to Abraham Lincoln on Dec. 25, 1864 – “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah …” – was literally the death knell of the Confederacy and ended the Civil War four months later.

General Sherman was far less political than his brother and at the 1884 convention declared if drafted he would not run; if nominated he would not accept; and if elected he would not serve. We still hear variations of this declaration yet today some 130 years later.

P.S. Garfield was ambidextrous and could write Latin with one hand while writing Greek with the other. Since he favored his left, he is considered the first left-handed president.

Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

It’s Been 43 Years Since a Human has Been on the Moon

This Apollo 11-flown U.S. flag on a crew-signed presentation certificate sold for $71,875 at a November 2013 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

On July 16, 1969, three astronauts lay strapped on their backs in their space module atop a massive Saturn V rocket. Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins were going on a trip into the Florida sky headed for a landing on the moon.

The Apollo space program had begun just eight years earlier in April 1961. On April 12, the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first person into space and to orbit the Earth. That stirred President Kennedy’s competitive juices.

After Gagarin’s 90-minute orbit, JFK wrote to VP Lyndon Johnson – chairman of the National Space Council – asking: “Do we have a chance of beating the Soviets by putting a lab into space, or a trip around the moon … or by a rocket to go to the moon and back with a man?”

At the time, the American space program was not far behind – as Alan Shepard had traveled into space on May 5, 1961 – but lagged in the technology to reach the moon.

The Russians had already succeeded in launching three hard-landing rockets (unmanned spacecraft shot up with a goal of simply hitting the moon) and America was two years away from that.

So after Shepard’s feat, JFK issued his famous challenge while addressing Congress. “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

Back in Florida, Apollo 11 – with a mighty roar – lifted off into space to meet that challenge. Only 11 minutes after liftoff, it was in orbit with the three astronauts feeling the early stages of weightlessness.

Thirty-eight-year-old Neil Armstrong was the commander and would be accompanied by Aldrin on the moonwalk after the lunar module Eagle separated from the command module Columbia.

Michael Collins would not touch the moon’s surface, as he was responsible for making sure the Eagle launched and then re-docked for the journey back to Earth.

While only eight years had passed since JFK’s challenge, they had been difficult, turbulent ones. JFK was dead from an assassin’s bullet, as were brother Bobby and MLK Jr.

Riots in major cities and the Vietnam War had ripped at the nation’s fabric. The counterculture of drugs, sex and rock ’n’ roll was still in full throttle. (We were in San Jose and mildly surprised by the daily chaos just 45 miles up Highway 101 in San Francisco. Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park were surreal.)

As millions of Americans watched Apollo 11 with awe and admiration, others felt it was a giant, expensive boondoggle designed to divert attention from widespread racial tensions and the 10 million people living below the poverty line.

Had America lost its mojo or were we entering a new, better phase? The jury was divided.

But nothing had distracted NASA except for a tragedy in 1967 when three astronauts on Apollo 1 died in a launch-pad fire. But they persevered and by July 1969 had made four successful manned flights, put spacecraft into orbit around the moon and tested the lunar module.

The Russian program unraveled when a chief scientist died and their highly secret N1 rockets exploded at least four times. Soviet politicians privately ceded the race to America and could only watch from the sidelines.

It took Apollo 11 three days to reach the moon and on July 19 the Columbia entered lunar orbit. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin entered the Eagle and landed it on the moon.

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” It was July 20, 1969.

There were four more manned missions to the moon. The last was in December 1972. Then the program was scrapped.

It has been 43 years since a human has been on the moon and we now rely on Ridley Scott (The Martian) and other filmmakers to fill the gap as we struggle with overpopulation, geopolitics and terrorism and a resurgence of racial tension.

Progress is difficult.

P.S. A surprising number of people (6 percent to 20 percent by annual polling) believe the whole moon thing was a hoax, anyway.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Rocky Marciano Remains the Only Undefeated Heavyweight Champion

Rocky Marciano gave this pendant to actor/comedian Joey Bishop, who then gifted it to Sylvester Stallone after the first Rocky film came out in 1976. The pendant realized $25,000 at a December 2015 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

On Sept, 21, 1955, Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano defeated Light Heavy Champion Archie Moore for his 49th consecutive win.

Exactly 30 years later to-the-day, IBF Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes was a strong favorite to tie Marciano’s win-streak record, but lost in a stunning upset to Michael Spinks.

Marciano defended his championship six times and was never beaten in his career. In 1951, he beat 37-year-old Joe Louis in an upset and Louis retired … permanently … after the fight.

Marciano had a remarkable KO record of 87.75 percent and only one boxer – Ezzard Charles – was able to last 15 rounds.

On Aug. 31, 1969 – a day before his 46th birthday – Marciano died in a tragic plane crash near Newton, Iowa (en route to Des Moines). The pilot hit a tree two miles short of the runway.

Marciano remains the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion, 49-0, and boxing experts rank him No. 9 or No. 10 on the all-time best list. He was the inspiration for the Rocky film series that Sylvester Stallone used to great advantage.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Governor Hiram Johnson was an Intriguing California ‘Progressive’

Campaign posters featuring Theodore Roosevelt and Hiram Johnson for the 1912 presidential election are popular with collectors.

By Jim O’Neal

When Arnold Schwarzenegger (AS) replaced California governor Grey Davis, it was after a special recall election on Oct. 7, 2003.

During his gubernatorial campaign, AS often invoked the name of Hiram Johnson, an earlier California governor. Johnson was directly responsible for the introduction of the law that allowed state officials to be recalled. AS also referred to Johnson’s progressive legacy.

Johnson became governor of California in 1910 as a member of the Lincoln-Roosevelt League, a liberal Republican movement. Two years later, Johnson was a founder of the Progressive Party that Teddy Roosevelt adopted for his 1912 presidential run. Roosevelt recruited Johnson as his running mate, but they lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Johnson was easily reelected governor in 1914, and in 1916 he defeated Democrat George S. Patton Sr. for the U.S. Senate (he was the father of George S. Patton Jr., the general of 3rd U.S. Army fame).

Johnson had a long 30-year career in the Senate and was very popular.

In 1934, he was reelected with an astounding 94.5 percent of the popular vote as both Democrats and Republicans nominated him! His only opponent was a socialist, George Kirkpatrick.

On Aug. 25, 2009, AS and his wife Maria announced that Hiram Johnson would be one of 13 inductees into the California Hall of Fame (a group that included Carol Burnett, Andy Grove, Rafer Johnson, Joan Kroc, George Lucas and Chuck Yeager).

AS may have been unaware that as governor, Johnson supported the California Alien Land Law of 1913. This law prevented Asian immigrants (excluded from naturalized citizenship because of race) from owning any land. The law was explicitly intended to discourage immigration (primarily the Japanese) and to foster an inhospitable atmosphere to current immigrants … in the hope they would leave the state.

This was followed by the California Alien Land Law of 1920, which closed many “loopholes” in the 1913 law.

In 1923, the laws were upheld in the Supreme Court and not invalidated until 1952 by the California Supreme Court under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Generally speaking, there was strong anti-Asian sentiment in California, starting with the Chinese and ending with the Japanese internment during the Second World War.

By 2009, the focus had entirely shifted south to our neighbor Mexico, and Johnson’s biased legislation had long faded from memory.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Gettysburg Symbolizes Horror of War, Quest for Equality and Freedom

This 1936 50-cent coin (MS68 PCGS), commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, sold for $48,875 at a May 2007 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

People who read about American history are aware of the Battle of Gettysburg and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. They are less familiar with the details of these famous events.

In early May of 1863, the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia pitted an outnumbered Robert E. Lee against “Fighting Joe” Hooker, whose Army of the Potomac was twice the size of Lee’s army. However, the Confederate general won the battle by outmaneuvering Hooker, which resulted in Lincoln replacing him.

Chancellorsville was also where General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (Lee’s right arm) was killed.

Buoyed by success, General Lee then turned north into Pennsylvania with plans to capture Harrisburg and then surround Washington, D.C. This would change the entire war. However, on July 1, 1863, the Union Army – now under General George Meade – blocked Lee at the crossroad town of Gettysburg. This is where the famous battle occurred.

The fighting raged over three days and was highlighted by southern General George Pickett’s famous charge on July 3 where his division suffered staggering casualties and forced Lee’s entire army to retreat. “Pickett’s Charge” became known as the “high water mark” of the Confederacy as the South slowly spiraled downward over the next two long years.

When General Meade finally moved south after Lee’s retreat, he advised Lincoln, “I cannot delay to pick up the debris on the battlefield.”

And quite a battlefield horror it was.

Eight thousand bodies and the corpses of 3,000 horses still lay unburied across the ridges and farmland of Gettysburg. Burial resources were scarce and the most they could do was lightly cover the bodies with dirt. The horses were burned in great piles south of the town.

Soon, relatives of Union soldiers began to scavenge through the shallow graves looking for loved ones. Arms, legs and even heads were left protruding and the horror was magnified when crows, pigs and flies descended looking for food.

Something had to be done and the job fell to William Saunders, a cemetery landscape architect. Then came the task of digging up the dead, identification and reburial.

Saunders shaped the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg (now called Gettysburg National Cemetery) and it was here on Nov. 19, 1863, that President Lincoln uttered the 272 words that became so well known.

The main speaker for the event was Harvard President Edward Everett, who droned on for two hours before Lincoln in a 13,000-word speech. The next day, Everett wrote to Lincoln: “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself, that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, as you did in two minutes.”


Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].