He will forever be “Mr. Cub,” the most popular player ever to roam the friendly confines of Chicago’s Wrigley Field. His sunny personality is legend, as is his refrain on a sunny day: “Let’s play two!” Now, one of a precious few Ernie Banks game-worn jerseys is on the auction block and may be on pace to set a new record.
SCP Auctions is offering a 1969 Banks pinstripe home flannel in its final 2014 event. The current high bid on the autographed relic from an “oh so close” season for the Cubs fans is $44,291 with bidding open until December 6 at SCPAuctions.com.
As most advanced flannel collectors know, Banks is considered the third rarest 500 home run club member jersey behind Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx in completely original, unaltered condition. Remarkably, it is widely believed that more Babe Ruth jerseys exist than those of Banks. One theory as to their extreme scarcity is that several of the handful of known original Banks jerseys were dismantled by various trading card companies for use on “swatch” cards in recent decades. Largely unknown to the collecting community, the jersey offered by SCP has rested quietly for more than 20 years as the centerpiece to Bill Riddell’s esteemed collection.
“With regard to quality, condition, rarity and provenance, we unabashedly rank this among the finest game worn flannels our firm has ever handled,” said Dan Imler, vice president at SCP Auctions.
The jersey has a Wilson size 40 tag sewn on the front tail along with a black chain stitched “1969”. Inside the collar is a strip tag reading “14-69-1-40” in chain stitch indicating the jersey number, year of issue, set number and size. The embroidered circular Cubs logo is sewn onto the chest while Banks number “14” is sewn on the reverse in blue tackle twill. The logo patch appears on the left sleeve and its original MLB 100th Anniversary patch remains on the right sleeve. Banks has signed the front of the jersey in large black marker.
Among the other known Banks jerseys is a similar 1969 home Set 2. In spite of that example having a replaced MLB Anniversary patch it sold at auction in 2012 for $169,000. According to BaseballReference.com, Banks made $60,000 that season.