Going, Going, Gone; Ruth All Star Ball Sells for Big $

The first home run ball hit in an All Star game lived up to the pre-auction hype in Pittsburgh.

Hunt Auctions’ special All Star Fan Fest event drew hard-core collectors, deep-pocketed fans and lots of interested bystanders to Pittsburgh hours before the 77th Major League All Star Game.

The auction was heavy on Pittsburgh Pirates-related memorabilia all day, but the highlight of the auction was the well-publicized first home run ball in All Star history. The Babe Ruth-autographed slice of sports history, together with ticket stub and documentation, went for a staggering $700,000 to an anonymous bidder. The 15% buyer’s premium pushed the final price to $805,000.

That wasn’t the only Ruth piece to draw attention though. A 1921 bat used by Ruth to hit his 59th home run of the season, accompanied by a Ruth signed provenance letter, sold for $420,000.

Beyond the two big ticket items, there were several other pieces that drew
interest from well-financed bidders. A 1954 Ted Williams home jersey became a relative bargain, selling for $31,000, significantly less than the $40-60,000 pre-sale estimate.

A 1927 Yankees signed ball went for $33,000, while a 1933 American League All Star autographed ball closed at $18,000. Modern memorabilia fared fairly well with one of the highlights a 1973 Hank Aaron road jersey which was landed for a bid of $13,000.

Pittsburgh-themed pieces were especially popular. The first hit/home run ball hit by Sean Casey when PNC Park opened in 2001 went for an astonishing $16,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $7500-10,000). Others included a bat used by Roberto Clemente in the 1969 All Star game ($22,000 vs a $15-20,000 estimate), a Bill Mazeroski game-used glove and jersey ($16,000 each), a 1971 Willie Stargell jersey ($13,000)
and a pristine Clemente single-signed ball ($10,000 vs $5,000-7,500).

Baseball cards did exceptionally well in the Hunt Auction with most equalling or exceeding the pre-sale estimates. A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle graded SGC 84 sold for $22,000. A 1953 Topps set, partially graded but considered VG-EX/NM overall went for $35,000 with an initial projection of $20,000 less. The consignor of a 1954 Topps set had to be smiling when the hammer fell on a VG/EX-NM set at $23,000. Featuring 20 graded cards, it sold for significantly more than the $4500-6500 projection. A 1953 Bowman color set was also a hot ticket, going for $14,000–nearly twice the top end of the estimate. Two 1956 Topps sets both exceeded expectations, with the better set going for $8250.

A 1932 US Carmel Babe Ruth sold for $8500 carrying an SGC 84 tag. A group of 31 Goudey Heads Up cards graded G-EX/NM sold for $3000 and an SGC 92 1954 Topps Ernie Banks fetched $5000.

The complete list of items sold at the Hunt Auctions All Star Fan Fest event can be found by clicking here.

More coverage of the auction from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.