The gloves that Muhammad Ali wore in 1971 in his first of three heavyweight title fights with “Smokin’” Joe Frazier – a bout that lived up to its billing as “The Fight of the Century” – realized $388,375 to take the top spot at Heritage Auctions’ $4.5+ million Platinum Night Sports Auction, held at the Cleveland House of Blues, in conjunction with the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland.
The gloves were purchased by Jeff Rosenberg, president of Tri-Star Productions, which facilitates the autograph pavilion at the National. Rosenberg says he plans to put the gloves on display at his company’s Field of Dreams store inside Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
The gloves originated in the collection of Ali’s long-time trainer, Angelo Dundee.
Lou Gehrig’s 1924 New York Yankees rookie contract was the second highest-selling item in the auction, bringing $358,500, while a Gehrig game worn Yankees cap from the mid-1930s sold for $215,100.
Babe Ruth’s 702nd career home run baseball, struck at Chicago’s Comiskey Park on July 23, 1934 – the same day notorious fugitive John Dillinger was gunned down just a few miles away – settled at $191,200.
More Yankees royalty was on display in the form of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA NM-MT 8 card, which realized of $179,250. The 1927 New York Yankees World Series Championship Ring presented to Hall of Fame outfielder Earle Combs soared to $155,350 while the first lot on the block in the auction, a team-signed ball from the 1927 “Murderer’s Row” New York Yankees kicked the auction off with a $143,400 price realized.
Game worn uniforms from Hall of Fame legends from all four major American sports changed hands in the auction, with highlights including a 1971-73 Bill Walton UCLA Bruins Game Worn Jersey, MEARS A9, which came in at $50,788 and a 1967 Harmon Killebrew game-worn Minnesota Twins Jersey, MEARS A9.5 –brought a final price of $59,750.
A 1923-24 Ty Cobb Game Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 9.5 sold for $107,550 and an early Pete Rose Game Worn Cincinnati Reds Rookie-Era Jersey brought $55,269.