The Babe always did know how to steal a spotlight. A single-singed Babe Ruth autographed baseball was the top selling item in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night sale in Baltimore Thursday night. With the company’s buyer’s premium, the selling price was $388,375, shattering all records for Ruth signed balls. The clean, white William Harridge official American League ball was given to the Hollywood publicist who worked on The Babe Ruth Story by the slugger’s widow shortly after his death. It sold via Hunt Auctions several years ago for $86,000 and has changed hands a few times since, with each sale for a higher amount.
It was the bookend to another Ruth piece that sold for exactly the same amount–the only known 1927 Ruth game bat in private hands. Both were sold to bidders in attendance at the auction, held at Camden Yards.
The ball and bat trumped even the two highly publicized lots from the ‘Black Swamp Find’ of high grade cards from the 1910 E98 baseball card set. A near set of 27 cards, rated number one on the PSA Set Registry brought $286,800 while a PSA 10 graded Honus Wagner card brought $239,000.
Two other Ruth items generated bidding wars. A 1931 All-America team certificate presented to Lou Gehrig and signed boldly by The Babe, sold for $101,575 and another high grade single-signed baseball from his final public signing brought $77,675.
A 1912 Boston Red Sox World Series trophy originally presented to manager Jake Stahl and the subject of a lengthy court fight over ownership, sold for $239,000.
The number one 1969-70 Topps basketball card set on PSA’s Set Registry, featuring 21 cards graded 10 and 73 PSA 9s, sold for a jaw-dropping $239,000–easily the most ever paid for any Topps basketball card set.
A game used Cap Anson bat from the 19th century went for $179, 950.
An eight-foot tall LeRoy Neiman painting of Muhammad Ali also drew strong interest from the crowd of bidders, selling for $155,350, the same amount a bidder paid for Muhammad Ali’s trunks from the 1975 Thrilla in Manila fight against Joe Frazier. The trunks sold at auction earlier this spring for $118,500.