The very sphere that featured in the most famous error in baseball history – and perhaps the most recognized baseball in the world – the “Buckner Ball” from the 1986 World Series, Game 6, brought $418,250 at Heritage Auctions to lead its more than $7 million Vintage Sports Collectibles Auction.
The ball was purchased by an advanced collector that wishes to remain anonymous.
“This is a record price for this very famous baseball,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage, “and well worth it. It’s more than a piece of sports history; it’s a piece of American pop culture and an iconic moment in all of sport.”
The ball was sold by Los Angeles singer/songwriter Seth Swirsky, who purchased the ball from Charlie Sheen in 2000 for $64,000.
“It was a true honor to have the privilege of being the caretaker of this storied piece of baseball folklore for the past 12 years,” said Swirsky. “I hope the new owner enjoys it as much as I have. Long live the '86 Mets and the '86 Red Sox – Mookie and Billy Bucks – and the great game of baseball itself for providing so many people with so much joy.”
Other highlights of Swirsky’s collection include $65,725 realized for Reggie Jackson’s glorious third home run baseball from Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, the performance that earned him the title “Mr. October”; Babe Ruth’s 136th career home run baseball from 1921, the ball that tied the career number and effectively made the Babe the Home Run King, brought $25,095, while Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis’s 1923 signed letter denying MLB reinstatement to “Shoeless Joe” Jackson brought $53,775. In what was one of the most surprising and interesting lots of the collection, Jose Canseco’s “Home Run Header” cap, which he wore on the day a fly ball bounced off his head and over the fence for a home run – and which was recently voted the most famous blooper in MLB history, brought $11,950.
Another huge success in the auction was the sale of a 1965 Beatles-signed baseball from the Shea Stadium concert that realized $65,725 after several rounds of spirited bidding.
High-grade rare baseball cards were also very much in demand during the auction, with a magnificent 1916 M101-5 Blank Back Babe Ruth Rookie No. 151 SGC 70 EX+ 5.5 leading the way with a $107,550 final price realized, a mark matched by a 1909-11 T206 White Borders Near Complete Set (518) – No. 3 on the SGC Set Registry.
One of the most anticipated offerings of the Heritage event was the John Hart Collection of single-signed Babe Ruth Baseballs, the top of which – a 1948 Babe Ruth single-signed baseball, PSA/DNA NM-MT+ 8.5 – was the subject of spirited bidding before finishing at $77,675. The collection of eight baseballs, dating to Ruth’s final public signing just two months before his passing, brought $221,383 in total. The ninth and final baseball is expected to realize more than $75,000 in the Heritage Sports “Platinum Night” auction in August.
Rare golf-related offerings proved quite popular in the auction, with the top lot coming in the form of an exceptional 1934 Inaugural Masters Tournament ticket/badge, the first and rarest of all Masters tickets, which more than doubled its pre-auction estimate of $20,000+ to finish the auction at $52,281. Walter Hagan’s 1931 Canadian Open Gold Medal also performed exceedingly well, realizing $17,925.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
- 1952 Eddie Mathews game-worn Boston Braves rookie Jersey, MEARS A9: $71,700
- 1961 New York Yankees team-signed baseball, PSA/DNA NM-MT+ 8.5: $50,788
- 1935 Babe Ruth signed letter discussing his St. Mary's School days, PSA/DNA Gem Mint 10: $41,825
- 1978 Billy Sims Heisman Trophy ring: $29,875
- 1939 Lou Gehrig final game of historic streak ticket stub: $15,535