Game-worn home pinstriped jerseys of New York Yankees Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig headline Heritage Auction Galleries' Signature auction closing Oct. 28.
"Through exhaustive research and close study of photographic documentation, we have been able to determine that the Babe Ruth jersey is the very one he wore to participate in the first All-Star Game in 1933," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage. "It's worth noting that the baseball that the Babe hit to record the first All-Star Game home run that day recently sold at auction for over $800,000. This jersey is also the first and only home Ruth jersey with the number three on the back ever to reach the auction block."
Ivy said the Gehrig jersey is equally important in the annals of baseball history.
"Again, through photographic studies matching the unique variations in pinstripe patterning, we have been able to definitively place the shirt on the Iron Horse during his greatest season, the Most Valuable Player campaign of 1927," he said. "Of course that Yankees squad is considered by most baseball historians to be the finest baseball team ever assembled."
"Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are the absolute elite when it comes to baseball collectibles, and these pieces are just as good as it gets," said Heritage consignment director and public television's "Antiques Roadshow" expert Mike Gutierrez. "Only a small percentage of the artifacts on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown could compare to these jerseys, which represent two of the most historically significant baseball collectibles in private hands."
Ivy said he hesitates to place an estimate on the auction results.
"When it comes to pieces of this tremendous rarity and desirability, Heritage auctions almost always seem to exceed expectations," he said. "Certainly $600,000 for each is a very safe bet, and there is a strong possibility that we'll see the seven-figure barrier approached or broken for either or both."
The sale also boasts a remarkable Ruth notched home run bat, circa 1923-26, with a MEARS A10 grade, a number of original photos from the famed Culver Archives, a large boxing collection and even an extraordinary Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe signed photo from their honeymoon in Japan.
"This is going to be a great auction, our largest ever both in terms of number of lots and in overall dollar value," Ivy continued. He also specifically mentioned a 1901 Pirates team-signed ball with Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro, a 1913 Philadelphia A's team-signed program and a stunning piece of original art of Eddie Plank, signed by Plank.
The card roster features dozens of lots from two "fresh finds" from boast coasts: an East Coast find of high-grade tobacco cards, including PSA 7's and 8's from the T206 White Border issue; and a West Coast find of early Caramel cards, including the tough 1910 Bishop & Co. E99 Pacific Coast League cards, offered as a seldom-seen complete set (30).
Ivy also points to two bats used by Babe Ruth as being particularly noteworthy.
"The earlier bat dates from the 1918 to 1921 labeling period of manufacturer Hillerich & Bradsby, which presents a very real possibility that Ruth used it during his final years with the Boston Red Sox before baseball's most historic trade brought him to the New York Yankees. The second dates from the important 1923 to 1926 era, and bears a carved notch in the trademark stamping which Ruth himself applied to indicate that he had hit a home run with the bat."
For fight fans there is "Smokin' Joe" Frazier's one and only WBC Heavyweight Championship belt, an item that Ivy calls "among the finest personal boxing awards ever made available for public sale." It is the belt Frazier earned with his 1970 victory over Jimmy Ellis, and that he defended when he handed Muhammad Ali his first defeat. Also offered is a Muhammad Ali boxing trophy, awarded to a 15-year-old Cassius Clay for his victory in the Kentucky Golden Gloves competition.
"This trophy had long been on display at the Louisville, Ky., gym where Ali first learned to box," explained Ivy. "It derives from the family of Joe Martin, Clay's first trainer and mentor."
Topping the football offerings is a game-worn jersey from Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.
And for modern card collectors, Heritage is auctioning a piece that Tim Muret, vice president of Upper Deck Authenticated, described as "almost certainly the most unique and valuable redemption piece ever offered by Upper Deck." This one-of-a-kind framed piece, won by a lucky collector in 2005, houses the signatures of the top baseball legends at each position. Among the autographs present are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Roy Campanella.
For more information, call (800) 872-6467, or to to the website at www.heritageauctions.com.