By VERNON ROBISON
It is no longer a legendary downtown Overton restaurant. but the Sugar’s Homeplate website is still fully functional and has taken on an entirely new operation.
The former restaurant site at sugarshomeplate.com has been completely updated and retooled to become an auction house for an amazing assortment of sports memorabilia, the personal collection of Sugar’s owners Ray and Judy Metz of Overton.
Some of the items up for sale on the site will be familiar to regular Sugar’s customers. A Dodgers jersey signed by Sandy Koufax, another one signed by Don Drysdale, a commemorative framed poster featuring 80 years of World Series artwork from 1903 to 1981: each of these had a prominent spot on the walls of the Overton sports bar which closed last summer.
But there is much more than that being sold on the website. In the first round of items, posted just last month, there is an array of sports-related items including full-year sets of baseball cards, autographed balls, posters, pennants and more.
There is an Everlast boxing glove signed by “Mohammed Ali aka Cassius Clay.”.
There is a historic full set of 9 hickory-shaft ladies golf clubs made by legendary cleek-maker Tom Stewart around 1900.
There is a Dodger baseball bat signed by five-years-in-a-row of National League Rookies of the Year who played for the team.
There is a complete set of 1976 Topps baseball cards.
And this first round of about 80 items is just the tip of the iceberg. The Metz collection adds up to well over 500 pieces. And little by little it will all be posted for sale
This comprehensive collection got started back in 1969 when Ray and Judy welcomed their first son into the family.
“We never got these things with an idea that they would be valuable someday,” said Judy Metz in a recent interview with The Progress. “Ray just started with collecting baseball cards for the kids to have.”
In the early days of the Metz family, Ray worked during the day and Judy worked in the evenings. Judy was pretty adamant, when the kids were young, that there shouldn’t be too much television before going to bed. So she instructed Ray to just read to the kids before bed time.
“I got lots of books and things for them to read,” Judy recalled. “But when I came home, Ray would be reading the backs of the baseball cards to them. That was their bedtime stories.”
It wasn’t until last year when the Metzes sold the restaurant that they start to take a full account of everything that they had. They were astounded at what certain things were worth.
“You know, six months ago, none of this stuff really had any value to me,” Judy said. “I’ve never thought about it that way. We just collected them over the years and they were just for fun.”
For example, Judy recalled that back in the early 1990s, shortly after the restaurant had opened, they made a practice of giving away baseball cards to customers. They still have several large boxes of cards from that era that, turns out, are worth a tidy sum of money.
“The trick is finding a market for them,” Metz said.
Their collection includes an uncut sheet of “Masters of Golf” cards which includes Tiger Woods at the first time he won The Masters.
“That one card alone is valued at like $50,000,” Metz said. “But, now you can say that; and here is the kicker: it is worth $50,000 to the person who has the $50,000 to buy it. You’ve got to find that buyer.”
And that is what has led the Metzes into the unfamiliar world of online auctions. They partnered with local web designer Dustin Berg of Mesquite Branding who went to work re-designing the restaurant’s old website into an auction house.
“Dustin has been great,” Judy said. “He has put in a lot of work photographing our stuff, setting up our website and getting the items posted on there. I just have to give him a shout out on the detail work he has been willing to do on the project.”
MVT produced, filmed, and published a 2 part episode titled, “Meet Judy and Sugar Metz” for their Meet Moapa Valley series. They wrote, “Sugar’s Home Plate has played a central role in connecting the community for almost 30 years. Judy and Ray “Sugar” Metz are the heart and soul behind this local institution that provides generous warmth, good food, and a lively, social place to meet.”