Babe Ruth Jersey Breaks Former Sports Memorabilia Record Price

The $5.6 million paid for the jersey is a new record in a public sale for a piece of sports memorabilia

This site focuses primarily on sports cards and less on memorabilia. But some things on the memorabilia side are simply too big to ignore.

A Babe Ruth game-used jersey recently sold in a sale by Hunt Auctions. The widely-publicized auction was mentioned earlier this year and was recently held at Yankee Stadium. The auction was noteworthy included a variety of items from the personal collection of Ruth.

The jersey is believed to have been from sometime between 1928-30 and sold for a record $5.64 million when it was all said and done. SGC authenticated the jersey.

Hunt issued a statement following the sale:

“The legacy and significance of Babe Ruth to the game of baseball and American popular culture is unmatched by any other figure in the history of this country,” Hunt Auctions president David Hunt said in a statement. “We were completely humbled for this opportunity afforded to our company by the Ruth family to present this previously unknown archive of materials to Babe’s adoring fans. While the record-setting prices attained today are certainly astonishing, I am not surprised at all given the incredible materials and the mythical status the Babe holds in the history of this country.”

The amount is, of course, a staggering one. The former record, according to the Baltimore Sun, was another Ruth jersey from 1920 that sold for $4.4 million. Thus, this one topped that previous mark by more than $1 million.

The memorabilia side of things is interesting. I am not much of a collector of it but it definitely has its following. And while there are a lot of card collectors, a lot of people with deep pockets would rather display a piece like a jersey or piece of equipment in their house as opposed to, say, a 3″ baseball card.

Even people that might not really categorize themselves as ‘collectors’ can still be intrigued enough by a particular item that fits in a game room or as an office display piece. I suppose the same could be said of a person that buys a rare baseball card. But I expect there are fewer of those types of one-off purchases of cards from non-collectors than there are purchases of autographs or memorabilia.

The obvious ‘issue’ with memorabilia are all of the authenticity concerns. Getting something directly from the family of Babe Ruth will have few questions, of course. But in general, there are a lot of educated guesses being made with respect to autographs and game worn/used items. That has sort of put a damper on the market for it.

It still remains abundantly healthy as evidenced by collectors continuing to pay good money for it. But I would contend that it could be even stronger if there weren’t as many completely valid concerns about authenticity. And as we saw in this case, collectors will fork over good money for items with solid provenance.

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