The Babe’s last road flannel was sold by one auction house and bought by another.
He was still hoping for a shot to manage the Yankees in 1938, but Babe Ruth had to be content with a Brooklyn Dodgers coaching job. At the end of that season, he would take the uniform off for good.
Ruth’s last Brooklyn Dodgers road uniform survived the 70 years that have passed and Saturday, it sold at Hunt Auctions’ annual sale at the Louisville Slugger Museum. The top bid was $270,000. With the buyer’s premium tacked on, the final realized price was $310,500. The winning bidder was California-based SCP Auctions, which said it made the purchase on behalf of a client who is an avid Ruth collector.
“This is a monumental piece of baseball memorabilia, and we are proud to have been a part of the purchase on behalf of our client,” said David Kohler, president of SCP. “Considering Ruth’s stature not only in baseball but in American pop culture, and the fact that this is the last uniform he ever wore, this really is a rare and prized piece.”
There were other Ruth items in the sale, conducted live at the Louisville landmark. A Ruth photo from the studios of noted baseball photographer Charles Conlon, used to make the 1933 Goudey premiums and other Ruth promotional items, brought $23,000 including the buyer’s premium. Two Ruth single signed baseballs sold. One, on an official American League ball and dating to the 1940s, brought $16,100 while a Reach ball dating from the same general era, sold for $14,950.
“Babe Ruth proved once again he is larger then life,” David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions told the Courier-Journal.
“The prices realized today for the Ruth uniform among others are an excellent indication of the resilience of the sports memorabilia market in the face of a difficult economy.”
There thirst for high grade rare baseball cards was evident in the sale of a 1954 Wilson Franks Ted Williams that sold for $62,100 against a $30,000-40,000 estimate. A 1914 Boston Garter Johnny Evers, perhaps the first ever offered at auction sold for $18,975. A professional restoration elevated the grade to VG-EX.
A couple of game-used bats once belonging to New York Hall of Famers drew significant interest. A Jackie Robinson pro model bat given to a former teammate sold for $39,100 while a 1961-64 era Mickey Mantle model brought $17,250.
In 1975 while facing the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park, Thurman Munson tossed his batting helmet on the ground after a particularly rough day at the plate. It bounced into the lap of a fan seated in the first row and stayed in the family as a great conversation piece for over 30 years. Consigned to the Louisville sale, the helmet sold Saturday for an astonishing $24,150. Even more unusual…Munson’s shower sandals. The clubhouse-used pair brought $1265 from one bidder perhaps looking to make Sports Collectors Daily’s annual list of the year’s strangest sports memorabilia. Munson items have proven popular this year. A road jersey worn by the deceased Yankee captain in 1978, brought $23,000.
Other sales included a 1923 World Series watch presented to an even earlier Yankees catcher, Wally Schang. It sold for $18,975. A Cal Ripken autographed game-worn jersey dating to his MVP year of 1983 went for $16,675 while a PSA 4.5 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle found a new home for a price of $14,950.