Babe Ruth wasn’t a leadoff hitter, but one of his old weapons is serving in that capacity in Memory Lane Inc.’s power-packed Fall Classic Auction catalog.
A 1922 game-used Ruth bat—with important side-writing from the Louisville Slugger Factory—is being offered in the sale, which opened Sept. 30.
The bat, sent by Ruth to Kentucky during spring training 1923 as a model for the company to add more lumber to the Yankee legend’s arsenal, is graded GU 10 by PSA/DNA. It carries a $100,000 minimum bid but is expected to bring a much larger price.
“This bat is a national treasure,” said Memory Lane’s J.P. Cohen. “It’s quite an experience to hold it in your hands and there’s no leap of faith required with regard to authenticity as being used by Ruth because of the provenance, the specifications and the markings. It would be the cornerstone in any world-class sports memorabilia collection.”
Nearly 30 years after Ruth began swinging that 43-ounce war club, another Yankees legend made his bubble gum card debut. The auction includes a PSA 9 (MINT) example of Mickey Mantle’s 1951 Bowman rookie card, which also carries a minimum bid of $100,000.
“This is one of the best Mantle rookie cards in existence and we think it will bring a price in the high six or possibly even the low seven figures,” Cohen predicted.
There are a number of other high-end vintage Mantle cards in the auction including a PSA 7 copy of his iconic 1952 Topps card also expected to push well past the $100,000 mark.
In all, the auction contains more than 520 high-end lots of sports cards and memorabilia from all sports.
Lots 29 through 63 consist of a run of cards from the Black Swamp Find of E98s, topped by the best card from the forgotten hoard discovered in an Ohio attic a few years ago, a PSA 10 Honus Wagner.
Among the other highlights among many in the pre-war category is a group of more than 50 high-grade T206s including multiple Hall of Famers such as Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Cy Young.
“The collector who accumulated these sought out high-end, centered cards, regardless of the technical grade,” Cohen said. “He really wanted cards that popped and these certainly do. It’s an amazing run.”
In addition to the early Mantle cards, the auction will also include the highest graded example of Mantle’s 1961 Topps card on the SGC Population Report (a Gem Mint 98).
There are dozens of other high-grade rookies and stars, topped by one of only a small number of 1953 Topps Willie Mays cards to have been rated 9 by PSA. There is a PSA 10 1968 Topps 3-D Roberto Clemente, a PSA 9 1956 Topps Clemente, a PSA 10 1956 Topps Sandy Koufax and several PSA 10 cards of Hank Aaron.
Those who were in attendance at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago this summer had a chance to gaze upon a virtually pristine 1961-62 Fleer basketball box of 24 packs which tops a selection of vintage unopened material in the sale. A 1970 Topps Super wax box is also among the lots.
In addition to the Ruth bat, the auction also includes a high-grade Spalding “Babe Ruth Special” baseball signed by the Bambino, with letters of authenticity from PSA/DNA and JSA.
Fans of baseball history will appreciate a remarkable group of Type 1 photos led by an original copy of Nat Fein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Babe Bows Out” and several other Ruth photos. Original images of Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Joe Jackson, Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson are also offered.
The auction runs through Oct. 14. For more information or to view the online catalog and register for bidding, visit Memory Lane’s website at