Chronology : 1920 1929
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.
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.
1969 Bill Russell Jersey
2021 SOLD for $ 1.12M by Hunt
Bill Russell is the son of an African-American who had desired to promote the education of black children. Bill is uncompromising and stubborn. He does not smile to his fans, refuses to grant autographs, rejects the journalists and skips the ceremonies. He is nevertheless fair play with his friends including his top rival Wilt Chamberlain. He cultivates his own rage before entering a game and his playing style is intense and speedy. By his sporting record he is the best defense player in NBA history.
Russell is promoted in 1966 as coach of the Boston Celtics, becoming the first African-American coach in North American professional sports. His NBA championship win in 1968 is his tenth as a player and his first as a player-coach.
1968-1969 starts slowly. The champion is physically tired, politically angry and desires to divorce from his wife. The Celtics nevertheless find their place in the playoffs and then in the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics and the Lakers are tying 3-3 before the decisive seventh game of the finals, scheduled to happen in Los Angeles. At that point the owner of the Lakers announces the future win of his team. On May 5, 1969, in a rage, Russell leads the Celtics to a victory by 108-106, which is his eleventh NBA championship.
A crowd welcomes the come back to Boston of the winning team. Russell is absent. Nobody in the club knew of his decision that the 1969 finals would be his last game as an NBA player and as a Celtics coach.
Consigned by himself, the Celtics jersey of his record setting eleventh win was sold for $ 1.12M by Hunt on December 10, 2021, lot 60. This piece of uniform was also photo-matched with the 1969 NBA Eastern playoffs.
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
A game used jersey from the 1982-1983 season has been photo matched with the cover page of The Sporting News on March 28, 1983 where he was highlighted as Player of the Year, aged 20.
This jersey was sold for $ 1.38M by Heritage on May 8, 2021, lot 82169.
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.