A jersey worn by Magic Johnson in perhaps the signature game of his NBA career sold for $1.5 million early Sunday at Heritage Auctions. Dating not only to Johnson’s remarkable performance for the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers but additional use in the 1984 Finals loss to Boston, the purple jersey was photo-matched to multiple instances of use.
After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar suffered an ankle injury and was unable to play in Game 6, Johnson started the game at center and played all five positions during his 47 minutes of action, collecting 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers to their first NBA Championship since 1972.
MeiGray and Resolution Photomatching both examined the jersey and highlighted matches to both championship series. Unlike today’s game jerseys which are often used for a single or small number of games or even changed out at halftime, teams in the past often used jerseys across multiple seasons.
A few other game-used items also proved to be big attractions. The earliest known autographed Babe Ruth bat, inscribed to collector Eddie Maier 101 years ago, sold for $870,000. Maier, as president of the Pacific Coast League’s Vernon Tigers, was perhaps the first serious collector of game-used bats.
A step below the Ruth lumber was the bat used by Pete Rose for is 4,191st career hit in 1985, matching Ty Cobb. Signed and inscribed by Rose, the PSA/DNA authentication letter includes a note about a hole that appears to have been drilled in the barrel, leading to strong speculation that it may have been corked.
The bat sold for $855,000, despite later research that dropped Cobb’s career hit total to 4,189.
A rookie year pair of Air Jordan shoes worn and autographed by Michael Jordan netted $615,000.
In all, 28 auction lots sold for over $200,000 in the first part of a two session sale with the entire two-day event bringing in $25,327,303.
Trading cards made up a sizeable portion of the auction with a PSA 8.5 copy of Bill Russell’s 1957-58 Topps card topping the pile at $630,000. It ranks as one of the five best on PSA’s Population Report.
One of only eight SGC-graded examples of Joe Jackson’s 1910 Old Mill Tobacco issue was also among the heavy hitters, with the VG 3 example netting $540,000, while a 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams rookie card graded PSA 9, hammered at $480,000, a new record price for the card at that grade.