Game-used items from a pair of sports titans were among the highlights Friday night as Heritage Auctions continued its three-day Spring Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction.
When bidding ended, the night’s tally was more than $3.5 million, far exceeding pre-auction estimates, according to Heritage.
That’s on top of the more than $8 million realized 24 hours earlier, when cards of Joe Jackson, Michael Jordan and numerous others set historic marks. Another seven-figure tally on Saturday pushed the three-day total to $12,504,640.
“Michael Jordan continued his memorabilia hot streak Friday night with several results that surpassed the pre-auction estimates by jaw-dropping margins,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “But while Jordan is moving up the ranks, Babe Ruth has once again proven he is still the king of sports memorabilia.”
Leading off the night’s impressive run was a historic Ruth game-used bat that ended up selling for $930,000, making it the fifth-highest selling bat of all time. The bat sold Friday night was the one Ruth used to hit his 52nd home run of the 1921 season, against his former team, the Boston Red Sox, in the second game of a Sept. 7 doubleheader.
This was the season during which the New York Yankee hit 59 homers to “become the undisputed King of Swat,” according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This particular piece of lumber is one of the “Hotel Ansonia” bats, so called for the Manhattan landmark that famously served as Ruth’s first New York residence.
Ruth actually gave away this gargantuan club – almost three feet long and weighing almost three pounds – to a contest-winning amateur ballplayer. The bat that has once again made headlines was donated during an event well documented in the press and in a letter on Ansonia letterhead that accompanied the sale of the Hillerich & Bradsby bat, which began Friday night below the pre-auction estimate of $500,000, only to streak well beyond it as bidding extended well into the night.
Three of the five top-selling bats of all time belong to Ruth – no surprise.
The star and subject of ESPN’s record-setting The Last Dance documentary series is a huge driver in the market right now. And not just on the hardwood.
Keepsakes from his days as a Birmingham Barons outfielder are difficult to come by. But in this auction, Heritage offered a a pair of Jordan-signed Air Jordan baseball cleats, not exactly the footwear with which he’s most identified. The spikes sold for $93,000 – almost 20 times the pre-auction estimate for an item that rarely sees the auction block.
Jordan’s such a hot commodity at the moment that even a tiny keepsake brought a big number – a ticket stub to the Oct. 5, 1984, Chicago Bulls-Indians Pacers pre-season match-up at the Peoria Civic Center Arena. This was the night the Jordan Era officially began for the Bulls: Jordan played 29 minutes and scored 18 points in his first-ever pro-ball appearance.
The original ticket cost was $8. Friday night, the stub sold for $34,800. That’s $1,200 higher than a stub from his first regular-season game sold for in 2018. The pre-season ticket went for $4,800 more than a graded ticket to Lou Gehrig’s famous 1939 “Luckiest Man” speech. Such a thing would have been considered unfathomable only two months ago.
Another significant sale Friday night was that of the first-ever 2018-19 Toronto Raptors NBA Championship Ring to hit the market.
The ring, adorned with 320 diamonds, once belonged to a member of the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment management team, which oversees the Raptors, Maple Leafs and Argonauts. It sold for $63,000.
The auction wrapped up late Saturday night with the third segment, featuring a large number of lower and mid-grade vintage cards. Complete results can be found here.