In the Lelands.com sports memorabilia auction that closed on Dec 16-17, two baseball bats from Babe Ruth and Pete Rose sold for a combined $324,003, while the Heisman Trophy awarded to Bruce Smith in 1941 set a new standard for Heisman prices at $395,210. In all, the 1,700-plus lots of sports and Americana memorabilia sold for more than $4.162 million.
The Ruth bat is a classic, the one the Bambino used to club his 52nd home run of the 1921 season. It is the oldest Ruth home run bat to ever be sold at auction and at $220,371 is one of the five most valuable Ruth bats ever auctioned. In 1922, the bat was gifted by Ruth through a newspaper contest to young Harry Borgman of Cincinnati for being the most popular youth baseball player in the area. The bat remained in the family for the past 83 years.
The Rose bat was used by "The Hit King" in 1985 to hit career home run No. 159. It sold for a remarkable $103,632, even though it appears to have been corked. Auction officials added that there is no evidence the bat was corked when Rose hit the home run. The Rose bat was purchased by GoldenPalace.com, the Internet casino famous for buying the Grassy Knoll fence and the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Marketing representative Drew Black says the casino plans to raise money for charity by sawing the bat in half and expose the truth to the world.
"Sports memorabilia auctions are a great indicator of athlete's place in history," said Josh Evans, founder of Lelands.com. "These two items certainly symbolize the mark that these two great players left on the game."
Smith's Heisman Trophy sold to noted Los Angeles collector Gary Cypres. It was one of 17 lots from the personal collection of Smith consigned by his family that sold for more than $429,600. Cypres also purchased Smith's game-worn Golden Gophers No. 54 jersey ($7,702); and a lot of three signed footballs from the 1940 Gophers championship squad ($2,700). The four other Heisman trophies previously sold at auction were: Larry Kelley ($328,110); O.J. Simpson ($230,000); and Charles White ($184,000).
Some of the other notable items sold in the auction: New York Knickerbockers baseball trophy ($104,079); a 1918 Jim Thorpe game-used bat ($62,967); Wayne Gretzky's first Edmonton Oilers contract ($43,476); 1928 Tris Speaker bat ($27,706); a 1950-51 Josh Gibson Toleteros PSA 7 card ($26,995); a 1933 AL All-Star Team ball ($24,541); the famed Shorty Laurice Brooklyn Dodgers Sym-Phony Band drum ($25,417) and megaphone ($12,902); and three classic hockey sweaters - 1939-40 Bill Cowley Bruins ($25,541), 1940-41 Bobby Bauer Bruins ($20,282) and 1963-64 Dave Keon Toronto ($18,438).
For more information, go to the company's website at wwwlelands.com.