Over 3,000 lots of historic memorabilia and trading cards are now on the block after Heritage Auctions opened its Spring catalog auction. Among the headliners: the bat Babe Ruth used to sock his 52nd homer in 1921 and the first Toronto Raptors championship ring to be offered at auction.
The sale is expected to generate more than $10 million when bidding concludes next month.
The Ruth bat is one of the “Hotel Ansonia” bats, so named for the Mahattan landmark that served as Ruth’s first home in the city after he was sold to the Yankees. Ruth gave away this monstrous slab of ash – almost three feet long and weighing almost three pounds – to an amateur slugger who had won a contest, an event documented in the press and in a missive on Ansonia letterhead. All that documentation accompanies the Hillerich & Bradsby bat, which is expected to sell for more than $500,000. The current high bid is $210,000.
Ruth used the bat to club his 52nd homer against his former team in the second game of a September 7 doubleheader and would finish the year with a record 59 homers.
Coincidentally, the Ansonia is linked to another baseball milestone, though one far more infamous: the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. It was at the Ansonia that Chicago White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil proposed to his teammates they throw the 1919 World Series for $10,000 a player. Joe Jackson was among the so-called Eight Men Out – though “Shoeless Joe” denied taking money or muffing plays. Jackson was a minor leaguer in 1910 when packs of Old Mill Cigarettes included cards.
The auction includes a newly discovered example of the T210 Jackson. The card, SGC VG+ 3.5, was found in North Carolina by the family of the man who originally pulled it from the cigarette pack more than a century ago. It will likely sell for more than $400,000. As of Tuesday afternoon, the high bid was at $195,000.
That’s the same pre-auction estimate given another card in the auction: a PSA NM-MT 8 example of the fabled 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle No. 311 (current bid $195,000).
Two years ago, Heritage sold a PSA 9 MINT Mantle for $2.88 million – the most ever paid for a post-World War II card.
It’s one of six 1952 Mantle cards in the auction.
Also for sale is the pair of eight-ounce Everlasts Muhammad Ali wore on Sept. 20, 1972, when he fought Floyd Patterson for the second time – in front of more than 17,000 at Madison Square Garden – and sent Patterson into retirement. The gloves contained little notes at the wrist made by the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee. One bears his pre-fight prediction: “Ali #1, KO 4.” The other chronicles what actually happened: “Patterson KO Sept 20/72.”
A letter of provenance from the cornerman accompanies the gloves, which have a pre-auction estimate of $100,000.
A jersey once worn by the late Fred “Curly” Neal during his 22 seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters, is also in the catalog. Neal, who died March 26 in Houston at 77, was one of basketball’s most beloved figures – more kids saw him on TV as a Saturday-morning cartoon character than on the court – and one of its greatest humanitarians.
The jersey, estimated to sell for more than $6,000, was worn for at least one entire season during the height of his fame, between 1979 and 1985.
“The depth and breadth of this auction is really astounding – there’s something for every collector, no matter their favorite sport, team or hero,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “I am very, very proud of our team for assembling this extraordinary collection.”
Other items in the sale include:
1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie No. 106, PSA NM 7 – (estimate $50,000+)
A ball signed by Hall of Famers Josh Gibson and Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays (estimate $50,000+)
2018-19 Toronto Raptors NBA Championship ring, the first to ever hit auction (estimate: $30,000+)
2001 Jeff Gordon NASCAR Winston Cup Championship Trophy (estimate: $10,000+)
Earl Campbell game-worn Texas Longhorns jersey from his Heisman Trophy-winning season (estimate $8,000+)
A circa-1990s photo of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant autographed by both men (estimate: $2,500+, though bidding was at $7,000 with three weeks to go before the auction’s close date)
1987 Don Mattingly game-worn New York Yankees jersey, photo-matched to 10 games including his eight-game home-run streak (estimate: $4,000+)
The 2020 Spring Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction will close over three days, May 7-9. Bidding is now open.