Chronology : 1920 1929 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 $ 720K 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
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
1931 Lou Gehrig Home Jersey
2020 SOLD for $ 1.44M including premium by Christie's and Hunt
narrated post sale in 2020
The New York Yankees players generally had two home jerseys and two road jerseys available for the entire season. The player's name was sewn in round letters on the inside of the collar next to the Spalding tag. The tight pattern of vertical blue stripes on the front of home jerseys makes photo-matching easier than on road jerseys.
A home jersey used by Lou Gehrig in 1927, the year of the Murderers Row, was sold for $ 720K including premium by Heritage on November 5, 2010.
On December 16, 2020, Christie's and Hunt sold as lot 46 for $ 1.44M including premium a home jersey from Gehrig, photo-matched in April and September 1931.
This thick woolen flannel garment had been roughly handled, starting with the shortening of the sleeves in the summer of 1931. The thinning of the flannel at the shoulders was reworked. On the back, a vintage number 4 has been sewn back in place of the original 4 which had early disappeared. Reversely the absence of inscription on the front is in conformity with the original state. It was graded A6 by MEARS.
A few years later, more attention was paid to the conservation of such relics. Given to a friend by a Yankees manager, a 1937 Gehrig road jersey remains in excellent condition, rated A9 by MEARS. It was sold for $ 2.6M including premium by Heritage on August 17, 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
2020 SOLD for $ 870K including premium
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 Cut Short Sleeves for Sandy Koufax
2020 SOLD for $ 750K including premium
He was born in Brooklyn, in the vicinity of the Ebbets Field of the Dodgers with whom he debuted in MLB in 1955. The race barrier had been broken by the Dodgers in 1947 with Jackie Robinson. The hiring of Sandy Koufax, who was Jewish, was also appreciated in that cosmopolitan neighborhood.
His jerseys from the Brooklyn era, before the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, are extremely rare. Two road grey jerseys worn by Sandy Koufax in 1955 have been auctioned : a MacGregor 1955 Set 1 for $ 570K including premium by Heritage on February 21, 2015, and a Rawlings for $ 670K including premium by Lelands on June 30, 2017. These two pieces are graded A9.5 by MEARS.
Heritage sells online on August 29 as lot 80047 a home jersey of the Dodgers by Rawlings, marked Set 1 1956. It is characterized by cut short sleeves in the new fashion of that season for the Dodgers. It bears the number 32 assigned to Koufax, just like the two examples above, and was signed and dated by the player. It is in excellent condition apart from the loss of a button and some soiling at the tail and has been graded A9 by MEARS.
This garment had passed at SCP Auctions on April 24, 2016 with an estimate of $ 400K.
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.
1980 Magic Johnson Jersey
2021 SOLD for $ 1.5M by Heritage
This accident leaves the central position to the highly talented NBA rookie Magic Johnson who plays all the five positions in the decisive sixth and last game, scoring 42 points. The Lakers win the series by 4-2. Aged 20, Magic is honored by the NBA as the Most Valuable Player in the Finals. He is the only rookie to win this title in the whole NBA history.
Magic's jersey photo-matched with the sixth Finals game was sold for $ 1.5M by Heritage on August 21, 2021, lot 80101. It had been probably used in other games of the 1980 Finals and is photo-matched with two games of the 1984 Finals. It has been signed and inscribed 'Good Luck' by the champion on the rear numerals.
1982-1983 Michael Jordan Jersey
2021 SOLD for $ 1.38M by Heritage
1996 Kobe Bryant Rookie Jersey
2021 SOLD for $ 3.6M by Goldin
On May 22, 2021, Goldin sold a home jersey of the rookie Kobe Bryant for $ 3.6M, lot 10. It has been matched to a photo shoot before the opening of the 1996-1997 season and is arguably the very first Lakers jersey worn by the player.
This size 44 Lakers 8 jersey has also been conclusively matched by Resolution Photomatching to seven home games from that season, plus tentatively to two other games. This jersey is correct to the uniforms made by Champion for the Lakers in the 1996-1997 season and the autograph signature has been authenticated by Beckett. It is in a condition of an extensive game use.