Chronology : 1920 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
1923 Game used bat of Babe Ruth
2004 SOLD for $ 1.26M including premium by Sotheby's
Babe Ruth hit the very first homer in old Yankee’s stadium on #openingday in 1923 with this bat. SCP had the privilege of selling it for a world record price for any bat, $1.265 million!#baseball #gameused #yankees #mlb #auction #worldrecord #halloffame #goat #sports pic.twitter.com/JlsldyAayH— SCP Auctions (@SCPAuctions) March 29, 2019
1927 Lou Gehrig was not Lucky
2010 SOLD 717 K$ 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.
1927 The Home Runs of Babe Ruth
2018 SOLD for $ 660K including premium
In 1927 the New York Yankees are unbeatable. The six Yankees hitters receive the collective nickname Murderers Row. Fans and magazines follow with passion the home runs by Ruth and Gehrig.
At the end of August, Gehrig is leading with 45 home runs, one ahead of Ruth. Throughout September Ruth is unleashed. He targets to do better than his teammate and to break his own MLB record of 59 home runs in a single season set in the previous year. Ruth succeeds. He scores his 60th and last home run of the 1927 season on September 30.
Sport collectors appreciate the equipment used in a great feat. Photo matching generally authenticates the jerseys. For the bats it is more difficult. The provenance makes it possible to identify the best hypothesis.
In 1927 Babe Ruth bought two identical bats from Hillerich and Bradsby, 35 3/8 inches and 38.8 oz. One of them is rated Game Used 10 by PSA/DNA with many game impacts and an inscription to Joe E. Brown, another Yankee player who stopped after a sport accident to become a full time actor, including movies from 1928.
The other bat was presented to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a baseball writer who had allegedly received it from Miller Huggins, the Yankees' manager. This provenance is quite plausible but this bat is not inscribed.
Considering the exultation of Babe Ruth after his new record, it seems unlikely that he gave the bat of this 60th home run without inscribing. The Brown specimen is thus the best candidate for the piece of equipment which was used in that feat. It will be sold online from Dallas by Heritage on May 17, lot 50316. Please watch the video shared by the auction house including sequences in period.
1937 All the Honors for the Iron Horse
2017 SOLD for $ 870K including premium
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 waiting for his desperate 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 drawing was sewn close to the location of the original mark that had been removed.
The photo-matching is beyond question. This jersey graded 6.5 by Mears has the value of a relic. It is estimated $ 800K for sale by Heritage online from Dallas on August 19 with an extended bidding phase, lot 80004.
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.
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.
1964 Bear Hunting with Gloves
2014 SOLD 840 K$ including premium
The World champion defending his title is Sonny Liston nicknamed Big Bear, huge destructive force in the ring and a terror by the city. He had won his title by knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round, a feat that he repeated during the rematch.
Against this exceptional puncher, nobody will bet on the challenger, Cassius Clay. This young man 22 years old had however been the Olympic champion in 1960 but is not yet feared among professionals. He nevertheless dared to greatly annoy Liston in the morning of the match by declaring the opening of the bear hunting.
Taller, younger and more flexible, Clay won the match when Liston could not resume at the seventh round. Aware of his feat and already attentive to his own marketing, Clay immediately trumpeted "I am the Greatest". A few months later he said that his name was a slave's and changed it to Muhammad Ali.
The gloves used by Clay against Liston on February 25, 1964 had almost made him lose the match in the fourth round after he rubbed his eyes without realizing that the gloves were soiled.
These gloves have become one of the most important match used equipment in the history of boxing. They are for sale by Heritage in New York on February 22, lot 80073 in the catalog. The price is difficult to predict.
POST SALE COMMENT
It was one of the most important boxing fights of the twentieth century. The gloves used by Cassius Clay were sold for $ 840K including premium.
1965 The First Fight of Muhammad Ali
2015 SOLD for $ 960K including premium
The pair of gloves used by Cassius Clay in Miami Beach was sold for $ 840K including premium by Heritage on February 22, 2014.
The revenge promised to be stormy. Clay's invectives against Liston had contributed to irritate and weaken the colossus. None of them was welcomed by US officials. Liston's links to organized crime were known. Clay had become Muhammad Ali in the meantime to support a Black radical movement, the Nation of Islam.
The fight took place in Lewiston, Maine on May 25, 1965. Unexpectedly, Ali won by knockout in the first round. The blow by Ali's right arm was terrible but had generated a great confusion. The referee had not counted the knockdown and Liston was suspected of lying down. Indeed, the video does not clearly conclude.
To anticipate a formal investigation which ultimately did not take place, the Maine State Boxing Commissioner immediately seized their pairs of gloves, which long remained in his family. These two pairs originally collected for the risk of scandal have remained together and will be sold in one lot by Heritage in New York on February 21, lot 80063.
1971 The Come Back of the Greatest
2016 SOLD for $ 606K including premium
The auction story really starts with the deceased estate of Angelo Dundee who had been Ali's trainer and cornerman. SCP Auctions sold for $ 385K each in November 2012 a pair of Frager gloves used against Liston in 1964 and a pair of Everlast gloves used against Frazier in 1971.
Both pairs later came back at auction. The 1964 pair was sold for $ 840K by Heritage on February 22, 2014. The 1971 pair was sold for $ 390K on July 31, 2014, also by Heritage, lot 80075.
Both had been discussed in 2014 in this column. All figures above include the premium.
Another price recently reminded must not be considered in this story. A pair of gloves worn against Patterson in their 1965 title fight was part of a much wider private deal involving moguls of boxing management for an overall $ 1.1M in February 2012.
Time changes and The Greatest has now deceased. The 1971 bout had been the first loss in his exceptional career, against Frazier who also was a much deserving champion. I guess that the flat result of the July 2014 auction was because Ali had not won and that the most dramatic of Ali's feats must now generate the highest excitement at auction whatever the sporting result.
This pair of gloves is now estimated $ 1M for sale by Goldin on August 4 in Atlantic City, lot 41. Although they were only used in that full fifteen round bout they are both highly worn including stains from perspiration.
Here is how I discussed the 'Fight of the Century' for introducing this lot in 2014.
The heavyweight boxing world championship held on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden between Ali and Frazier opposed two champions undefeated in their professional career. Moreover both had won most of their fights by knockout.
The official return of Muhammad Ali, previously stripped of his title for political reasons, passionated his supporters and his opponents. He had proclaimed that he was the greatest, and it was true. In 1964, he had humbled Liston who did not represent his ideal of the black man. With Frazier, he managed a similar escalation of provocation.
Joe Frazier is also one of the top champions of all time. On 8 March 1971, his endurance through the fifteen rounds proved far superior to Ali's and his victory was unquestionable. The fight of the century was very hard. Ali's wound at the cheek was severe and Frazier was so exhausted that he had to be hospitalized.
The remake between both champions in Manila on October 1, 1975 will have the same dramatic intensity.
1972 Ice Hockey Jersey of Paul Henderson
2010 SOLD 1.27 M$ including premium by Classic Auctions
1980 The Great Day of US Ice Hockey
2013 SOLD 660 K$ including premium
Winter Games are taking place normally, but already the United States begin to organize a boycott of Moscow. In the stadium, the flagship competition becomes the ice hockey, the fastest of all team sports, where Soviet domination is overwhelming for two decades.
The American coach put his confidence onto young players. On February 22, they face the invincible Soviets. Ten minutes before end, the US captain Mike Eruzione gives the advantage to his team by a magnificent shot. Under an incredible fervor of the public, the last ten minutes during which the Americans confirm their domination by a strategy of attack are a piece of sports anthology. The game is now known as the Miracle on Ice.
Eruzione had kept his equipment, which will be separated into several lots by Heritage in New York on February 23. The top lot is the jersey worn by him for the Miracle on Ice. It is estimated $ 1M.
Eight years earlier, Canadians had also achieved a sensational feat against the Soviets. The jersey worn by Paul Henderson, who scored the winning Canadian goal 34 seconds before end of game, was sold U.S. $ 1.27 million including premium by Classic Auctions in Montreal on June 22, 2010. This auction house is specializing in ice hockey.
I invite you to play the video shared by Heritage on YouTube to introduce the sale of the Miracle on Ice, courtesy of ABC Sports.
POST SALE COMMENT
This jersey was sold $ 660K including premium. This is a good price for a piece from a relatively recent sporting event.