Fall Premier Auction 2017


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/4/2017

This lot features an ABA Memphis Pros stock certificate that measures 12” wide by eight inches high and has been date stamped May 26, 1972. It’s made out to Barry R Holmes for three shares and includes the ABA Memphis Pros logo at the top of the document. This includes two facsimile signatures of club secretary, Alan L. Kosten (who was the general counsel for the team) and club president, A.S. Hart (referred to as A.W. Hart), a Memphis stockbroker who was elected to his position with the team after purchasing $25,000 worth of Pros stock. Hart pulled off what is considered one of the biggest deals in ABA history.

It’s also hand signed by majority team owner P.W. Blake, who purchased the New Orleans Buccaneers and moved the team to Memphis where they became known as the Memphis Pros. The team featured Mississippi State legendary basketball coach Babe McCarthy who came to Memphis with his New Orleans roster. The team included such ABA stars as Jimmy Jones, Gerald Govan, Steve Jones, Wil Jones, Wendell Ladner, and Charlie Williams. In their second season (and last season as the Pros), they added Randy Denton, Warren Davis, and who they thought would be the next Pete Maravich, Johnny Neumann to the mix.

Due to severe money problems, the league took over the franchise at the end of their second season. McCarthy resigned on April 27, 1972, and then on June 13, 1972, then Oakland A’s owner Charles Finley purchased the team, promising to keep the franchise in Memphis. He renamed the team the Memphis Tams. This stock certificate was issued only a few weeks before Finley’s purchase of the franchise and has never been canceled.

Here’s an excerpt from a web page entitled “RememberTheABA.com” that refers to the stock offering:

“Off the court, the Pros were a mess. Only two months into the season, new owner Blake surprised everyone by "throwing in the towel." Claiming that he had already lost $200,000 on the team, he turned over the Pros to the league office. He wanted no further part of the franchise. After this bombshell, the ABA had to operate the team on a shoestring budget (while seeking new ownership for the franchise). New General Manager Charlie Cavagnaro, who had been a sportswriter until the Pros moved to Memphis, was put into a difficult situation. He submitted numerous unpaid bills to the league office, cut costs any way he could, and tried to keep the team's front office in place.

“Finding new ownership to keep the team in Memphis seemed impossible. No corporate money was found. Wealthy Memphis residents were not interested. Just when it looked like the team would be sold to out-of-state interests (who would move the team), the regular citizens of Memphis came to the rescue. They bought shares of stock in the Pros in a "Save Our Pros” public offering held on February 12, 1971. Those who wanted to keep the state's only major league team came to the Pros' offices and paid $5, or $10, or $50 for Pros stock certificates. Over 4,000 Tennesseans bought stock in the team. One dog also got in on the action. Two Marines at the local Naval Air Station were not allowed to buy shares, since they were not Tennessee residents. So they bought some shares in the name of their station's mascot, a bulldog. The ABA took about $100,000 less than its $800,000 asking price, and told the club to spend the rest on the team itself. A 24-member board of directors was appointed for the new corporate owner, Memphis Area Sports Inc. The stock offering became known as the "Memphis Miracle."

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