Bidding has opened for the only known game-worn Jackie Robinson jersey from his historic 1947 rookie season, an artifact that could threaten the record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.
Heritage Auctions is offering the jersey, which has been in the hands of a private collector after being sold by Rachel Robinson, widow of the baseball pioneer, about 16 years ago. Heritage officials believed the jersey would sell for at least $3 million when the auction comes to an end November 19 but early bids have already pushed the price to $1.33 million with the 20% buyer’s premium that will be tacked onto the winning bid.
The highest price ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia is just over $4 million for a circa-1920 Babe Ruth Yankees jersey in 2012.
Heritage says the jersey has been photomatched to Jackie Robinson Day at Ebbets Field in September of 1947 through a photo that shows the Dodgers’ second baseman wearing it.
The jersey is a Spalding size 42 Regular and the manufacturer’s tag remains on the interior collar. It’s been given a grade of A9 by MEARS.
It also includes a letter of authenticity signed by Rachel Robinson, which reads:
To Whom It May Concern: This 1947 home uniform was brought home by my husband Jackie Robinson at the end of his first major league season. You can see Jackie wearing this uniform during the Jackie Robinson Day Ceremony at Ebbets Field in 1947. A photo of him wearing the uniform can be seen in the Most Valuable 1949 Player Series Jackie Robinson Book. The jersey has been in the Robinson Family Archives since the end of the 1947 World Series.”
Auction officials say that while high quality images of Robinson during the 1947 World Series are hard to find, they believe it may have been worn in Games 3, 4 and 5 in Brooklyn.
Heritage Auctions’ Chris Ivy appeared on Fox Business News Tuesday, showing off the jersey to a national audience as he discussed the auction with Varney & Co.
The Robinson jersey is being sold in the “Heroes of Sport” auction that also includes All-Star Game worn jerseys from Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, Muhammad Ali memorabilia and over 50 other lots from some of the world’s most famous athletes.