Today baseball memorabilia is a multimillion dollar industry, but collectors still remember the man who changed the face of the modern game.
Despite playing his first professional game almost 100 years ago, Babe Ruth’s legacy as the Sultan of Swing can still be felt in the game today. His big hitting style and larger-than-life personality helped popularize the sport like no other player, and ensured his place as an American cultural icon.
His legend is such that items of his memorabilia have become the holy grail for many collectors. Sales of everything from bats and balls to jerseys and baseball cards have broken auction records across the U.S, as collectors compete for a true piece of sporting history.
Users of Wikicollecting.org, the open-source collectibles encyclopedia, have compiled their list of the top ten most expensive items of Babe Ruth memorabilia ever sold. As the list proves, the Bambino continues to dominate the market just as he dominated the diamond all those years ago…
1. Ruth’s 1923 Louisville Slugger bat
The legendary bat used by Babe Ruth to hit the first ever home-run at Yankee Stadium is one of the most prized pieces of baseball memorabilia. Ruth used the solid ash wood bat during the first game at the stadium on April 18, 1923, and hit three home runs in a 4-1 defeat of the Boston Red Sox.
The bat used to hit the first of these home runs was sold by Sotheby’s in December 2004 for a record price of $1,265,000.
2. Ruth’s 1919 New York Yankees contract
The contract that took Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees in December 1919 is the most expensive baseball document of its kind.
It was sold by Sotheby’s in New York in June 2005 for $996,000 to Gotta Have It! Owner Peter Siegel, who described it as “an historical jewel, a diamond”.
3. Ruth’s 1932 “Called Shot” Yankees jersey
The jersey is the one worn by Ruth during the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field, when he famously called his home run by pointing to the center-field bleachers before hitting it there.
It was sold in June 2005 at a Grey Flannel Auctions sale for a price of $940,000.
4. Home run ball from the first 1933 All-Stars game
The ball hit by Ruth for the first home run of the inaugural All-Star game in 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago sold in July 2006 for $805,000.
The sale was conducted by Hunt Auctions, with the ball being sold by the family of Earl Brown who originally caught the ball in 1933 and later had it signed by Ruth.
5. Ruth’s 1934 Yankees Japanese tour jersey
The game-worn jersey used by Ruth during the Yankees’ 1934 Barnstorming exhibition tour of Japan is one of the few to remain from the famous tour. It was sold by Mastro Auctions in August 2005 for a price of $771000.
6. Ruth’s 1933 All-Star game jersey
The jersey worn by Ruth during the inaugural 1933 All-Star game is one of only five game worn Ruth jerseys in existence.
In October 2006 it became one of the world’s most valuable baseball jerseys when it was sold during a Heritage auction for a price of $657,250.00.
7. Ruth’s first 1918 Hillerich & Bradsby bat
The first Hillerich & Bradsby bat ever used by Babe Ruth was the model on which all his future bats were based.
He chose it from a selection by the company and used it during the Boston Red Sox’ 1918 World Series winning season. The bat was sold at a Heritage Auction in 2009 for a price of $537,750.
8. The 1914 Babe Ruth Baltimore News SGC 40 card
The 1914 baseball card is the first to feature Ruth and shows him during his Minor League days with the Baltimore Orioles, before making it to the Majors with the Boston Red Sox.
The card became the second most expensive trading card ever sold at auction in 2007, when it sold at a Robert Edward Auctions for $517,000.
9. A Babe Ruth game-worn Yankees cap circa 1920s/30s
The game-worn cap, featuring Ruth’s name embroidered in the official Yankees script, is one of only three known Ruth Yankee caps to exist. This example, dating from the 1920s or 30s, was sold by Hunt Auctions in July 2008 for a price of $285,000
10. Ruth’s autographed 702nd home run ball
The ball hit by Ruth for his 702nd career home run at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in July 1934 was sold by Hunt Auctions in October 2010 for a price of $230,000.