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Bud's bobbleheads a hit at garage sale

Mike Keller of Shakopee, Minn., wanted to make sure he got his hands on a Bud Grant bobblehead.

So Keller arrived at 6:30 a.m. Thursday for Grant's garage sale in Bloomington. He sat in his truck in front of the former Minnesota Vikings coach's house and kept himself busy with paperwork before the sale opened at 8 a.m. Then he plopped down $150 for the bobblehead autographed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame coach.

"It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission," Keller said of what he will tell his wife about the hefty price tag for his new prize.

Grant's first authorized bobblehead was a big attraction at his sale, which ran Wednesday through Friday. About 300 people showed up in a driving rain when the sale began at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The bobblehead features Grant, a Superior native, in Vikings coaching gear alongside his beloved hunting dog, Boom, who was put down last October after a cancerous tumor was found.

"I think it's a good picture — of the dog," Grant, who turns 90 today, said with a laugh.

Five-hundred bobbleheads were ordered from China, with 50 arriving by air in time for the sale. The other 450 are coming by boat.

Grant put 20 on sale Wednesday, 15 on Thursday and another 10 on Friday. Those not getting a bobblehead at the sale can order one and have it shipped to them.

In a deal with Joe Florenzano of Edina's Triple Crown Sports Collectibles, Grant gets 200 bobbleheads and Florenzano 300. Florenzano is selling his allotment for $90 signed by Grant and $55 unsigned.

All the bobbleheads Grant is selling come with an autograph. He said his price is inflated to make up for costs to ship the first 50 by air.

Each bobblehead is numbered, with Grant keeping No. 1. He is considering having more made, but they will need to be altered somewhat since the first 500 are considered originals.

On the bobblehead, Grant, an avid hunter, is holding a duck retrieved by Boom. Because his likeness is wearing a Vikings logo, Grant had to get approval from the NFL.

"I originally had a gun over my shoulder, and the NFL didn't like that," he said. "I said, 'It's not a gun you shoot people with, it's a shotgun you shoot birds with.' The guy (with the NFL) said, 'It's still a gun.' We went around and around, and finally I conceded.

"I said, 'I'll take the gun off, but I'll replace it with a duck. He said, 'A dead duck?' I said, 'I'm not going to hold a live duck.' He said, 'I'll get back to you.' Finally, though, they approved the dead duck."

Florenzano convinced Grant earlier this year that having a bobblehead would be a great attraction for his garage sale. Grant said last month this would be his final garage sale — he's held a dozen over the years — but on Thursday backed off that, saying, "It could be my last, but never say never."

"I'd been trying to get him to do a bobblehead for 13 1/2 years," Florenzano said. "He finally agreed because he said, 'This is my last garage sale.' He says that every year, but this might be his last one and he wanted to do something special."

Florenzano is taking orders for his stash of bobbleheads. He will have Grant sign bobbleheads at a Sept. 30 show at Southtown in Bloomington.

The most expensive item sold at the garage sale was a set of coaching headphones from the late 1960s and early 1970s that fetched $1,000.

Grant had seven shotguns available Thursday for between $125 to $450 and a replica fiberglass fish for $150.

Grant will celebrate his 90th birthday today by having a Chinese meal with his family. But he might have received an early present last month, when he acquired Deuce, a 4-year-old Labrador Retriever, as a possible replacement for Boom.

"He's on probation," Grant said. "He's on trial. He's got to be acceptable so I can take him to places and I don't have to worry about him chewing on anything, biting anybody or barking at the moon. He's got a ways still to go, but he's a first-round pick."