A panoramic photo of the 1914 Baltimore Orioles including a smiling young Babe Ruth sold for $190,323 in as Lelands wrapped up its 2019 Spring Classic catalog auction early Saturday morning. The 6×14 photo pictures Ruth at age 19, lined up with other members of the minor league squad he joined after spending much of his youth at St. Mary’s Industrial Home for Boys.
The photo had also been sold privately by Lelands in the 1990s as part of a collection of original International League images. It’s one of few surviving original photos showing Ruth in the minor leagues.
Another item with a Ruth connection was the top selling item in the auction. A baseball signed by 11 original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame during the first induction ceremony in June 1939 netted $236,389. The autographs on the ball, including Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and other early inductees were collected that day by Ed Rommel, a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1920s and 1930s.
Three team-signed balls from Rommel’s extensive collection generated significant interest from collectors. A 1924 Yankees ball including newcomer Lou Gehrig soared to $71,508, a ball autographed by the World Series champion Washington Senators went for $54,301 and another inked by the ’24 Cleveland Indians reached $48,178. Rommel’s own game-worn Philadelphia Athletics uniform sold for $30,326.
Two other items in the auction topped the six-figure mark: a circa 1972 autographed Bobby Orr Boston Bruins jersey reached $113,924 while New York Knicks great Walt Frazier’s 1970 NBA Finals jersey was sold for $100,081 including the 20% buyer’s premium.
Lelands’ partnership with the Pittsburgh Steelers produced numerous vintage game jerseys, nine of which sold for $15,000 or more.
The top seller was a 1982 Jack Lambert road model ($50,131). Others included:
- 1981 Franco Harris road $31,127
- 1976 Mel Blount home $30,326
- 1980 Terry Bradshaw road $28,297
- 1978 Lynn Swann road $21,259
- 1977 Jack Ham $20,713
- circa 1971 Rocky Bleier $17,118
- 1979 Dwight White $15,562
- 1979 L.C. Greenwood $15,562
Other items sold included a 1952 Topps baseball set with the Mickey Mantle graded PSA 5 ($75,320); a newly discovered M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn Ty Cobb graded SGC 5 ($35,453); a 1948-49 Leaf Satchel Paige PSA 3.5 ($25,724), a 1940-41 Frank Brimsek Boston Bruins game jersey ($36,695); Denny McLain’s 1968 American League Cy Young award ($33,359) and a 1957 Harmon Killebrew Washington Senators road jersey ($25,724).
Complete results can be found here.