When it comes to American sports history, baseball is still king. And when it comes to sports memorabilia, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle are the unquestioned holy trinity. Vintage Yankees memorabilia dominated the upper echelon bidding in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night sale Saturday evening in New York.
A game-worn and unrestored Gehrig jersey dating from the 1927-28 season drew the highest bid among several dozen big ticket pieces sold in front of a live audience at the Ukrainian Institute of America. It sold for $717,000 including the 19.5% buyer’s premium tacked on to all final bids. The jersey featured Gehrig’s name stitched in the collar and was given the stamp of approval of game-used authenticator MEARS, which assigned it an A7 grade.
A mid-1930s game-worn Gehrig Yankees cap sold for $191,230.
Winning bids for the more than 130 items sold, including several pieces from 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey hero Mike Eruzione, totaled $5,818,755.
A somewhat surprising star of the auction was the bonus check given to Mickey Mantle by the Yankees after he signed out of Commerce, OK, in 1949. Made out for $1,150, the check sold for a remarkable $286,800 after a fierce bidding war between those in attendance and bidders who participated by phone.
A 1965 Leroy Nieman painting of Mantle realized more than $131,000.
Ruth and vintage Yankees items from that era were strong again. A 1927 team signed baseball sold for $149,375. Two checks related to Ruth’s sale to the Boston Red Sox dated in late 1921 and early 1922 and signed by the principals involved in the infamous sale, realized $95,600. A ball signed by Ruth in 1948 during what’s believed to be his last public autograph session, sold for $77,675.
Six items consigned by Eruzione from the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s ‘Miracle on Ice’ victory over the USSR and subsequent gold medal victory brought a combined $1.3 million. Eruzione’s jersey from the win over the Russians sold for $657,250 while the stick he wielded when he scored the go-ahead goal late in the game brought $262,900.
The ‘bloody sock’ worn by Curt Schilling in the 2004 World Series didn’t quite reach the pre-auction estimate of $100,000, selling for $92,612.
The former equipment manager of the Milwaukee Bucks during their championship season in the early 1970s consigned game-worn jerseys from a young Lew Alcindor and fellow Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as well as a pair of Alcindor’s goggles. Patrick McBride was in attendance and saw the three pieces sell for nearly $170,000 combined. He’d gotten them for the asking in the mid-1970s.
Other items sold included:
- 1923-25 Ty Cobb game used bat $77,675
- T206 Eddie Plank SGC 40 $65,725
- 1991-92 Wayne Gretzky game-used jersey $77,675
- Gretzky’s 1979 contract sending him from WHA’s Indiananapolis franchise to Edmonton $47,800
- 1969 New York Jets ring (Earl Christy) $53,775
- Colin Kaepernick 2012 game worn 49ers jersey 422,705
- Johnny Manziel’s cleats from win over Alabama this season $7,767
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