A 1919 photo of Babe Ruth with a caption chronicling his sale from the Red Sox to the Yankees sold for $37,200 in an auction of over 200 valuable vintage sports photographs.
That photo, apparently associated with publicity for one of the newsreels that were popular in theaters at the time, measures 9 1/2 x 7 inches and even three holes punched in the site didn’t deter bidders from latching on to a unique piece of sports history. The caption, detailing the transaction, remains affixed to the pack.
It was one of several Ruth photos that stood out during the sale conducted by Heritage Auctions. A Type I 1919 head and shoulders photo of a young Bambino in his Red Sox uniform soared to $34,800 while an original large sized copy of Nat Fein’s famous “Babe Bows Out” photo, signed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning lensman, took third place at $34,400.
In all, six photos sold for $25,000 or more and ten drew winning amounts of over $10,000. In all, the auction generated over $450,000.
“This might be the most dynamic subgenre in the hobby right now,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions for Heritage. “These prices would have been impossible just a few years ago, and we suspect that we’re still quite early in the growth cycle.”
A 1939 photo of an emotional Lou Gehrig during his “Luckiest Man” speech, one touting it as a potential prize winner, reached $31,200, the same price attained by another early Ruth photo, this one taken by Charles Conlon, that rocketed to $31,200.
Photos of icons from later years weren’t forgotten, though. A 1951 Mickey Mantle image that originated in the archives of bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby, sold for $25,200 while a local news photo of Michael Jordan, taken during his first regular season NBA game in October of 1984, netted $22,200.
Complete results can be found here.