History of Vintage Collectible Foam Fingers, Hands and Beyond


Christopher C. Wuensch, aka CCBigs, is a reformed sports writer and junk wax collector with a particular affinity for 80’s baseball. Today he delves into his vast basement collection of cards and other sports memorabilia for a look at the novelty of collectible foam hands.

 

There’s only one true way to show the world that your sport memorabilia collection is No. 1. That’s with a novelty Foam Finger held triumphantly toward the sky.

This classic piece of sports fandom has become a staple at ballparks, stadiums and arenas the world over, where they’ve been stylized to just about every sports team, university and so much more.

Foam fingers are an over-exaggerated fabric hand, often with a No. 1 finger boastfully raised. And if you have some in your collection, they’re potentially quite valuable.

We’re No. 1…literally

The Foam Finger made its debut in 1971 when Ottumwa High School student Steve Chmelar fashioned a hand from hardware cloth and paper mache to help rally the Bulldogs past Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School in the quarterfinals of the Iowa High School State Basketball tournament.

Five years later in Texas, Cy-Fair High School industrial arts teacher Geral Fauss began construction on his own version of a foam hand to stir up school spirit. Only his first splintery prototypes were crafted from plywood.

He eventually switched to a polyurethane foam and made his first sales at the 1978 Cotton Bowl between Notre Dame and Texas.

A year later Fauss launched Spirit Hand Line, the world’s first foam finger retailer, which is still going strong today.

Among his first items was a Joe Montana San Francisco 49ers foam finger. One recently sold on eBay for $144. See it on hobbyDB.

Foam Fingers Today

Half a century later, the foam finger has proved to be more than just a fad.

Look no further than the Shohei Ohtani Foam Finger released in 2024 by New Balance. Sales for the finger of the Los Angeles Dodger star range from $50 to $300 on eBay. Own one? Add it to your hobbyDB collection here.

Sports comprise the majority of the foam finger landscape with the WWE coming from the top rope for the foam finger title. Armed with that info, it should come as no surprise that Hulk Hogan is the king of the ring and the foam finger domain.

Considering the career arcs of both foam fingers and the Hulkamaniac, it could be argued that no other athlete has done more for the prosperity of the novelty foam market than Hulk Hogan.

His 1988 foam finger, for example, recently sold for as much as $125!

More Foam Fingers on hobbyDB

With the popularity of both foam fingers and the WWE, it was a matter of time before someone switched the fingers up. Ordinarily I’d err on the PG-13 side, but the popularity of these 1997 and 1998 Stone Cold Steve Austin releases still to this day cannot be ignored.

You can likely add one to your collection for anywhere between $50 and $125 these days.

 

 

The foam fun where it all began for this child of 1980s North Jersey with this Devils foam finger. Still in great shape if you can overlook a little schmutz. Value? Let’s say sentimental.

 

 

Conventional pro teams are great, but how can you not get fired up for the Harlem Globetrotters, LA Kiss or Belfast Giants?

 

 

Lots of brands have gone the foam finger route, such as Minnesota’s Grain Belt Beer, which presumably leaves the wearer with a free hand to enjoy a cold one. hobbyDB estimated value around $50.

 

 

Does it still count as a foam finger if it’s a mascot head, such as this vintage Michael Jordan era Benny the Bull?

 

 

The New York Islanders have taken the foam finger to the next level. Although, I don’t recommend wearing one while playing ice hockey and not just because it’s worth about $100.

Check out all of the foam fingers found on hobbyDB. What’s a foam finger in your collection? Tell me in the comments below!

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