The Baseball Hall of Fame claims to own the bat Babe Ruth used to hit his record-setting 60th home run in 1927 but prominent collectors believed The Babe’s weapon of choice that day is the one found in Heritage Auctions’ Spring catalog. Inscribed to Ruth friend Joe E. Brown, a nationally known actor-comedian who was among the first celebrity sports collectors, the bat sold for $660,000.
Eighteen bids were made for the bat, which was given by Joe E. Brown to his son Joe, the general manager of the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates just months before a 1961 wild fire in southern California destroyed Joe E. Brown’s home and most of his baseball memorabilia collection. Louisville Slugger factory records indicate the bat was part of a Hillerich & Bradsby order placed between May 14 and September 27 of 1927.
The auction also included an early 1930s Purdue basketball jersey once donned by legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. Left with a former classmate during Wooden’s time as a high school coach in Indiana, the jersey sold for $264,000.
In all, the auction generated $4.2 million in sales.
“The memorabilia market is hot across the board,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions for Heritage, “but the top end continues to enjoy the steepest ascent. Our marketing department has proven particularly adept at drawing global investment capital into the collectibles field, and our consignors are reaping the enormous benefits of this enterprise.”
A 13,000-piece autograph collection obtained by noted collector Jack Smalling and including numerous scarce signatures from the past sold for $180,000 while a signed 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle rookie card with an autograph grade of 9 sold for $66,000.
Other highlights included:
- 2006 Tom Brady game-worn jersey $66,000
- Late 1930s Eddie Collins single-signed baseball $55,200
- 1934 Tour of Japan signed photo with Gehrig, Ruth, Foxx Mack, etc. $42,000
- 1938 Jimmie Foxx game-used bat PSA/DNA GU 9 $40,800
- 1946 Honus Wagner Pirates coach’s jersey $38,400
- Ron Widby’s Super Bowl VI ring $31,200
- 1975 Jim Palmer game-used jersey $30,000
- 1947 Jackie Robinson debut game ticket stub $28,800