The 1937 Heisman Trophy awarded to Yale halfback Clint Frank sold for $312,000 late last week, topping Heritage Auctions’ Fall Catalog Auction. The final price included a 20% buyer’s premium.
Frank was the third winner of what’s now considered one of sports’ most important individual honors, following Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago and Yale’s Larry Kelley. Kelly’s award sold nearly two decades ago for $328,110, just months before Kelley died at age 84. Frank passed away in 1992.
The auction, conducted over two days, also included the only known surviving example of a huge lobby poster for a 1930s movie “Play Ball” starring Babe Ruth. The professionally restored three-sheet poster sold for $60,120.
The auction included numerous jerseys and other game-used memorabilia, topped by an early 1940s Joe DiMaggio bat. Rated GU8 by PSA/DNA, the 36-inch Louisville slugger sold for $46,600. A DiMaggio jersey dating from the 1947 World Series, didn’t meet the reserve price and has now been put up for sale at $264,000 through Heritage.
In all, the auction generated $3.3 million.
A 1970 game jersey once donned by Hall of Famer Dick Butkus soared to $43,200 while a jersey believed to be the last one worn by Johnny Unitas as a member of the Colts went for $36,000. Other big-ticket items sold included: Whitey Witt’s 1924 Yankees warmup sweater ($38,400); 1960 Don Drysdale Dodgers jersey (431,200) and a 1968 Deacon Jones Rams jersey ($26,400).
Among the more interesting items in the auction was a 1920 Yankees team signed baseball, left behind by catcher Muddy Ruel when he sold his home 31 years later. According to Heritage, the consignor’s parents purchased Ruel’s house in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in 1951 and discovered a box of autographed baseballs in a closet drawer, including the 1920 ball with a slightly faded, but early Ruth autograph. He’d kept the baseball since that time, finally consigning seven of them–including the 1920 ball–to the auction.
Topping the list of autographed items was a 1934 Exhibit 4-in-1 card featuring Yankee greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez and Bill Dickey. Bearing all four signatures, the PSA/DNA authenticated piece sold for $38,400. A single-signed Ruth baseball rated 6.5 by PSA/DNA went for $31,200 while a 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers high-grade autographed ball sold for $20,400.
“There were solid results across the board,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions for Heritage. “We saw some high-end items rocket past our pre-auction estimates, which bodes incredibly well for our upcoming winter Platinum Night auction to launch the 2019 auction season.”
Other items sold included:
- Gold medallion given to Cubs shortstop Joe Tinker following a crosstown series victory over the White Sox in 1905 ($31,200)
- New York Giants staff member’s Super Bowl XLVI ring $31,200
- Roberto Clemente signed 1960 player’s contract $22,800
- 1996-97 Scottie Pippen game-worn Bulls home jersey $22,800