In the last few months, we have seen one of his jerseys sold for $4.4 million. One of his old caps. Plenty of autographed baseballs. Heck, a few years ago, one of his old stirrup socks was sold for several thousand dollars. Now batting…a circa 1922 Babe Ruth Yankees sweater.
Gifted more than 40 years ago to a Maryland restaurant owner, the button down double-knit has been consigned to SCP Auctions and will be on display at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, awaiting auction this fall.
“Original player team sweaters from the 1910-1930 are of extreme rarity with few surviving examples let alone Babe Ruth, the King of the baseball memorabilia world,” SCP Auctions President David Kohler told Sports Collectors Daily. “It’s very historic.”
Sort of like an early team or letterman’s jacket, the auction company says it “was likely a staple in Ruth’s suitcase during his pivotal early years with the Bronx Bombers”.
A little digging produced period photographs of a young Babe, looking like the James Dean of the 1920s in the team issued sweater, cigar in hand. After hitting 60 homers in 1921, New York was the Babe’s city.
Steel gray in color, the sweater is trimmed with a navy shawl collar, cuffs, front placket and bottom trim. There is a light purple interlocking "NY" logo on the left breast. The name “RUTH” is largely hand written in period faded purple ink (approximately 4” letters) on the inside lower back of the garment.
A 1969 newspaper article that accompanies the sweater documents its lineage as having been gifted to William Christman of Gaithersburg, Maryland by a trainer of Babe Ruth in St. Louis during the early 1920s. At the time Christman received the sweater from Ruth’s former trainer he was a young St. Louis area high school baseball star playing in the local Babe Ruth League. Christman kept the sweater until 1969, when, as the article states, he presented it to a Gaithersburg restaurateur to be displayed in part to honor the death of Mr. Christman’s son in Vietnam.
The sweater is accompanied by comprehensive LOA from MEARS.
Kohler says the sweater came to auction as a result of the publicity that surrounded his company’s sale of the 1920-era Ruth Yankees jersey that brought $4.4 million this spring. Purchased by another auction house behalf of a private client, the jersey, too, will be on display at the NSCC show in Ruth’s hometown of Baltimore.
You can see the Babe walking onto the field for opening day in 1923 in a sweater here.