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1920s Babe Ruth glove sells for record $1.5 million in Louisville Slugger Auction

A baseball glove Babe Ruth once gifted to friend and fellow player/manager Jimmy Austin sold for $1.5 million at Hunt Auctions, setting a record for vintage baseball gloves.

A baseball glove that Babe Ruth gave to former player/manager Jimmy Austin in the 1920s sold for a record $1.5 million by Hunt Auctions in the 19th annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Auction on Nov. 12.

Bidders from across the U.S. competed against International buyers for the glove, which was gifted by Ruth to Austin in the 1920s and became a part of Austin’s personal collection that was passed down to his family following his death in 1965. After lengthy bidding, it sold for the staggering price of $1,527,500, a record price for any game-used baseball glove.

1920s Babe Ruth glove that sold for more than $1.5 million at Hunt Auctions.

1920s Babe Ruth glove that sold for more than $1.5 million at Hunt Auctions.

Also See: 1951 Mickey Mantle rookie card could set record at Memory Lane 

Austin, who played for the Yankees in 1909-10, played for and managed the St. Louis Browns in the 1920s and became good friends with Ruth. One day Austin asked Ruth for one of his worn-out gloves. Ruth was happy to oblige.

In 1964, Austin recounted the moment in an interview with author Lawrence Ritter for his popular book “The Glory of Their Times.”

“So I asked the Baby, ‘Babe, you got an old worn out glove for me you could spare?’ He said, ‘by God, I have you,’” said Austin, who added that Ruth was “a wonderful fella” who “had a heart of gold.”

Also See: A look at the historic 1960 Fleer Football set 

The glove was recently discovered by Austin’s niece, Susan Kolokoff, and was stored in a box in the family garage for the last 30 years. When it was submitted to Hunt Auctions for consignment it was believed to be just a Babe Ruth store model glove from her uncle’s personal belongings. The unique audio interview provided evidence of its origin, along with other provenance and extensive authentication.

Babe Ruth's glove from the 1920 shows tobacco stains on the back.

Babe Ruth's glove from the 1920 shows tobacco stains on the back.

The glove was manufactured by Spalding specifically for Ruth. In the 1964 audio recording, Austin discussed the glove with Ritter and can be heard pounding the leather of the glove as he shows it to Ritter.

The glove has also been photo-matched by PSA/DNA to a photo of Ruth wearing the Spalding glove, which includes tobacco stains on the back.

Babe Ruth with his Spalding glove in the 1920s.

Babe Ruth with his Spalding glove in the 1920s.

“The Babe Ruth glove from Jimmy Austin and its accompanying audio recording from 1964 are nothing short of astonishing,” said David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions. “We have been very blessed to have been able to present several of the most significant Babe Ruth related artifacts to have ever entered the marketplace, including the 1927-30 Ruth professional model Yankees jersey which realized $5,640,000. This monumental glove will assuredly take its rightful position among those record-setting items and is truly one of the most historic pieces of its medium to have ever been offered at public auction.”

Kolokoff, who consigned the glove to Hunt Auctions, said her childhood memories of her “Uncle Jim” are “extremely dear to me.”

“Whether learning to play gin rummy with him or just enjoying my annual weeklong summer visits to his Laguna Beach home, it was always time that I will cherish,” she said through Hunt Auctions. “He was a larger-than-life figure, like a grandfather to me, whose incredible baseball career was such a point of pride. The glove had rested in a box for the last 30 years until we learned of its history and heard the amazing audio recording of my Uncle Jim fondly recalling his dear friend Babe Ruth. I am completely stunned by the discovery of the glove’s story and can only imagine the smile that Uncle Jim would flash knowing that this incredible piece of baseball history will now be shared with baseball fans all over the world.”

The auction also featured the sale of two special autographed items. A Ruth single-signed baseball, graded PSA/DNA 8, owned by well-known dealer and promoter Rich Altman sold for $188,000.

A rare 1948 Swell Sport Thrills Jackie Robinson “Dramatic Debut” rookie card, graded PSA 9, sold for $82,250.

Hunt Auctions is currently accepting consignments for its annual NFL Super Bowl Live Auction event to take place in Phoenix. For inquiries please email consignments@huntauctions.com

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