Chronology : 1920 1928 1947
1920 The Jersey of the Babe
2012 SOLD 4.4 M$ including premium
The sale by SCP Auctions on May 19, online from California, of a wool jersey of the Babe is indeed a considerable event. Two weeks before the auction ends, this lot has already surpassed Lou Gehrig's jersey sold for $ 717K including premium by Heritage on November 5, 2010.
Moreover this jersey dates from an exceptional period in Ruth's career and is in very good condition. It is marked NEW YORK, which makes sense for this sportsman. However, Ruth had made the success of the Boston Red Sox before being transferred in 1920 to the New York Yankees.
The jersey has retained its original identification with the name of Ruth. A photo of the champion made in March 1920 shows him with a jersey identical as the example to be sold, confirming, if not the year, at least the period when the garment was made by Spalding and worn by Ruth.
Here is the link to the press release shared by AuctionReport.
POST SALE COMMENT
The prices of the rarest pieces have no predictable limit. Babe Ruth's jersey was sold $ 3.7 million before fees, 4.4 million including premium.
The memorabilia from Babe Ruth provided two other notable results: $ 590K including premium for a bat and $ 540K including premium for a cap.
This sale was also very successful for baseball cards from the 1950s in mint condition (PSA10): $ 430K including premium for Roberto Clemente, and $ 360K including premium for Hank Aaron.
For post WWII baseball, let us also mention a jersey worn by Mickey Mantle in 1968, sold $ 370K including premium.
BABE RUTH BIRTHDAY: Today on January 6 1895 the greatest player to play the game of Baseball was born. Here is the best piece of Ruthian memorabilia sold by @SCPAuctions for $4,415,658 World record for a piece of sports memorabilia #Baberuth @baseballhall @Yankees @MLB #MLB pic.twitter.com/Z5BL5bA2DF— SCP Auctions (@SCPAuctions) February 6, 2018
1927 Lou Gehrig was not Lucky
2010 SOLD 717 K$ including premium
On November 5 in Dallas, Heritage Auction Galleries is selling a jersey worn by Gehrig during these heroic games. Size 46, signed Spalding, this garment bears the name of the player inside the collar. The fans of baseball memories need their magnifying glass, like philatelists and numismatists. They inspect the old photos for the pattern of the stripes on the jerseys. No doubt for this one: 1927.
Lou was one of baseball's most beloved players. His jersey is estimated $ 600K. The auction is already running on the web and this price has already been reached including premium. The piece is shown in the press release shared by the auction house.
Few celebrities have given their name to the illness they were victims. In 1939, Lou was suffering from Charcot's disease, an incurable multiple sclerosis that Americans now name Lou Gehrig's disease. In a different field of activity, the quadriplegic physicist Stephen Hawking is another famous victim of this terrible disease.
POST SALE COMMENT
Heritage Auction Galleries strengthens its position in the market of sports memorabilia at auction. Sold $ 717K including premium, Lou Gehrig's jersey is a museum rated piece.
1928-1929 A Road Jersey of Babe Ruth
2019 SOLD for $ 5.6M including premium
The players used two jerseys, a home jersey for the games on their field and a road jersey for trips. A jersey could be used throughout one season or more, which further increases their rarity.
Compared to the next period, documents allowing photo-matching are rarer. The experts thus pay the greatest attention to the details of making which allow an identification of the year or a range of years, rather than on the shears in the textile or on misalignments in the inscriptions.
A jersey marked 'New York' used by Babe Ruth was sold for $ 4.4M including premium by SCP on May 19, 2012 after being exhibited for many years at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum in Baltimore. This New York Yankees road jersey was dated circa 1920.
A Spalding road jersey of size 46 attributed to Babe Ruth has just surfaced. It will be sold by Hunt Auctions on June 15 at the Yankee Stadium, lot 47. The sale is essentially devoted to a personal collection of Babe Ruth, perhaps to be correlated with the very recent death of his second daughter. Here is the link to this auction.
The 'Yankees' mark on the front side enables to date the garment between 1927 and 1930. A label inside the collar is marked 'Ruth'. A number 3 has been erased at some point while leaving some traces.
The photos of Babe Ruth in 1927 show another placement of the buttons. The photo-matching orients rather towards 1928 or 1929. It is in 1929 that the Yankees began to sew a number on the jerseys to facilitate the identification of the players by the public. Ruth had received the number 3.
UPDATE: Babe Ruth NY Yankees Jersey added to Ruth Collection Live Auction at @yankeestadium. Professional model Yankees Road Jersey Worn by the #Bambino dates to the 1928-30 era with Potential to Set World Record Pricing in Excess of $4,000,000! @NewYorkYankees #SultanofSwat @MLB pic.twitter.com/0dx9NChNR4— Hunt Auctions (@HuntAuctions) April 23, 2019
1937 The Y and the Seam
2019 SOLD for $ 2.6M including premium
The retirement of Babe Ruth in 1935 increases the attention of the supporters to Lou Gehrig. In 1936 Lou even participates in a casting to replace Johnny Weissmuller in the role of Tarzan the Ape Man. On the field, 1936 and 1937 are great years with two consecutive victories of the Yankees in the World Series.
Around that time, players usually wore two home jerseys and two road jerseys per year. After the season it was customary to give the uniforms to a training club for young players where it was modified as needed.
A jersey game used by Lou Gehrig in 1937 and afterwards modified in a farm club was sold for $ 870K including premium by Heritage on August 19, 2017. Its lower grade A6.5 by MEARS was outweighed by a historical appeal : it was matched with the photo used as a model for the Gehrig Monument at the Yankee Stadium Monument Park.
In June 2018 SCP reported that they had achieved the private sale of a road jersey of Lou Gehrig, photo-matched with two games from August 1937. Escaping the nursery clubs, it had been presented to a friend by George Weiss, general manager of the Yankees, and had been kept by the family. The 2018 price has not been disclosed.
The matching had been done by Resolution Photomatching, considering that the alignment to the seam and buttons of the stitched Y beginning the word YORK is different for each jersey.
The same jersey is estimated $ 2M for sale by Heritage in Dallas on August 17, lot 56059. A document demonstrating the photo-matching in the press release prepared in 2018 by Resolution Photomatching is included in the catalog of Heritage and the original provenance is also with George Weiss. It is graded A9 by MEARS and Excellent by SGC, meaning that the only changes from the Spalding model are consistent with the known habits of the player.
1937 The Achievements of the Iron Horse
2017 SOLD for $ 870K including premium
A highly iconic jersey of Lou Gehrig was sold for $ 870K including premium by Heritage on August 19, 2017, lot 80004. It is now estimated $ 800K by the same auction house in an online sale ending on February 22, lot 50067.
I narrated it as follows before the previous sale.
With Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig the New York Yankees were unbeatable. The personalities of the two teammates were nevertheless remarkably opposed. Ruth was a rebel and Gehrig a stoic.
On May 2, 1939, after one year and a half of worsening of his physical condition, Lou renounces to play. From June 1, 1925 to April 30, 1939 he had realized with the Yankees the sensational performance of 2,130 consecutive games in major league. Nicknamed The Iron Horse he was an example for the youth in the sequel to Christy Mathewson. His number 4 was withdrawn on 4 July 1939 by the Yankees.
On July 4, 1941, five weeks after his death, Gehrig was the first player and the second person after the manager Miller Huggins to be honored with a monument at Yankee Stadium Monument Park.
The image in his plaque and in the 1941 ceremony ticket is copied from a photo made in 1937. The attitude, both smiling and melancholic, is typical of the great player, as if he was knowing in advance his incurable fate.
The flannel jersey worn by Lou Gehrig on this photo and visible on the plaque and on the ticket was retrieved. It had been worn out and modified through about 40 games with the champion in 1937 followed by an unregistered but probably intensive use in a farm club. A NY mark conforming to its 1937 style was sewn close to the location of the original mark that had been removed.
The photo-matching is incontestable. This jersey graded 6.5 by Mears has the value of a relic.
1947 The Rookie of the Dodgers
2017 SOLD for $ 2.05M including premium
At the closing ceremony of the championship on September 23, 1947, a photo shows Jackie in a baseball uniform alongside his wife and a friend.
That game worn jersey was treasured for half a century at first by Jackie and then by his widow. A great symbol of the movement that will lead to racial equality in the United States, it is sold without reserve price as lot 50001 by Heritage in Dallas on November 19 in an online auction with extended bidding. The bidding starts at $ 900K with a $ 3M guide value.
The 1947 season ends from September 30 to October 6 with the World Series where the Dodgers are defeated by the Yankees in the seventh match. Rickey's choice had been relevant : Jackie Robinson was able to resist all insults up to and including the MLB's most prestigious event and his sporting qualities made him named Rookie of the Year.
Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
1956 A Jersey for the Triple Crown
2020 SOLD for $ 650K including premium
For that period, the photo-matching of New York Yankees jerseys is easy. The logo on the chest is composed of an N and a Y with curved branches, individually sewn by hand. Each piece is easily recognizable in the photos by the respective position of the two letters and by their positioning over the vertical stripes of the garment.
In an online sale which ends on January 23, Mile High Card Company sells as lot 1 a Spalding flannel home jersey dated 1955, on which the central bar of the N forms a narrow angle with the upper left bar of the Y. It is narrated in the article shared on January 1 by Sports Collector Daily.
This garment is matched with all of Mantle's photos in the Yankees Stadium from March 1956 to July 1956, with no prior use. The auction house estimates that Mantle achieved 17 homers with this jersey.
It is completely authentic except the large number 7 on the back which is not original. Such an alteration was a standard practice when a jersey obsoleted by a player was offered to a lower league club. It is graded A7 by MEARS.
The uniforms correlated to the most significant sporting events are the most appreciated in the hobby. Regarding Mantle, the jersey worn for two homers of the 1964 World Series was sold for $ 1.32M including premium by Heritage on August 18, 2018, and the jersey of the penultimate homer of his MLB career was sold for $ 486K including premium by Heritage on February 25, 2017.
1956 Number 8
2010 SOLD 565 K$ including premium
If he's right, comic books are not the only sector of the U.S. market that is likely to jump in a spiral of rising prices for exceptional lots. Exactly! Today news bring us the jerseys of baseball players.
On February 16, I discussed the forthcoming sale of a jersey from number 7 of the New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle, estimated $ 100K.
Five days later, a jersey number 8 was in turn announced in a press release by Grey Flannel, for auction sale on the web on April 14 with a starting price of $ 50K. As I had explained, the Yankees honored their great players by removing their number. The number 8 was therefore that of Yogi Berra.
The auction house considered being able to demonstrate, based on period photographs, that this garment was worn by Berra at the most memorable feat of his career (a "perfect" game) in 1956.
It is well appreciated that the main specialty of Grey Flannel is selling jerseys of baseball players. But will the market accept the demonstration?
The answer came today, shared by Auction Report: Two weeks before the closing of the sale, the bid is already at 240 K $. How far will it go up?
POST SALE COMMENT
All categories of the market can generate outstanding prices. The jersey number 8 was sold for 565 K $ including premium.
1964 Home Runs in World Series
2018 SOLD for $ 1.32M including premium
The home run scored by Babe Ruth in the Third Game of 1932 is unforgettable, first by Ruth's defiance or victory gesture even before holding his bat, and then because this fifteenth and last homer scored by Ruth in World Series was a record.
To equal and then exceed a record set by Ruth is an enviable feat. Mickey Mantle ran his 15th World Series homer in 1963.
In 1964 the World Series was won in 7 games by the St. Louis Cardinals against the New York Yankees. The three homers scored by Mantle were not enough to defeat the Cardinals but they set his record at 18 homers. This was Mantle's last World Series performance because the Yankees failed to qualify until his retirement as a player in 1968.
Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 were played in St. Louis and games 3 to 5 in New York. Mantle's homers were split between both sites, in games 3, 6 and 7. On August 18 online including an extended bidding phase, Heritage sells a jersey worn by Mickey Mantle, photo-matched with games 6 and 7, lot 80055 estimated $ 750K. It is graded A9 by MEARS.
It was a common practice for the Yankees to wear new uniforms for the World Series. This jersey is therefore not photo-matched with previous games. A laundry mark indicates that it has also been prepared for the following season.
In an interview with Sports Collectors Daily during the National Sports Collectors Convention, the Heritage Auctions specialist underlines the extreme rarity of this type of piece. Please watch this video. Keep also in mind the jersey worn by the same player when he scored his 535th MLB homer in 1968, sold for $ 486K including premium by Heritage on February 25, 2017.
1968 The Mick with a Gentle Tiger
2017 SOLD for $ 486K including premium
On September 19, 1968, the New York Yankees meet the Detroit Tigers. The absolute classification on that date is led by Ruth and Willie Mays with Foxx and Mickey Mantle sharing the third position with 534 homers each.
Since his rookie year in 1951, The Mick is a very popular player but at 37 years old in 1968 he has lost much of his effectiveness. During the game with Detroit, he holds the bat while the pitcher is one of his fervent admirers, Denny McLain, a strong personality who is not afraid of controversy. McLain launches an easy ball to Mantle and The Mick achieves his 535th homer with which he can finally overtake Foxx.
There was nothing illegal in this complacent pitch despite a wink by the Tiger when The Mick reached the third base. McLain will be reprimanded by the Major League Baseball Commissioner. Mantle will achieve before the end of that year his 536th and final homer.
These records have been exceeded many times : Mickey Mantle is currently in 13th position for the number of homers in Major League. His difficult end of life is forgotten and he has become again the symbol of the post-war American dream.
The jersey worn by Mantle against the Tigers was autographed by him on the upper chest to a friend and signed "The Mick". In condition graded MEARS A10, this game worn uniform is for sale by Heritage in Dallas, lot 80014 with a guide value at $ 700K. The sale will take place on February 25 and close on the next day by extended bidding.