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Rare Babe Ruth glove gifted to friend and former MLB player highlights Louisville Slugger auction

In the 1920s, Babe Ruth gave one of his gloves to friend and fellow player/coach Jimmy Austin. The game-used glove is coming to auction in the annual Louisville Slugger auction.

When Babe Ruth swatted a home run against the St. Louis Browns in the 1920s, he would often look toward the Browns dugout and wink and wave at player/coach and good friend Jimmy Austin.

One day Austin, who played for the Yankees in 1909-10, 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.”

Babe Ruth glove from the 1920s gifted to friend and former MLB player/coach Jimmy Austin.

Babe Ruth glove from the 1920s gifted to friend and former MLB player/coach Jimmy Austin.

Also See: 1951 Mickey Mantle rookie card could set another Mantle record 

After playing shortstop and third base for the Yankees in 1909-10, Austin moved to the St. Louis Browns, where he played from 1911-29. He also served as a player/coach for the Browns and served as manager in 1913, 1918 and 1923.

The glove that Ruth gifted to him in the 1920s became a part of Austin’s personal collection and was passed down to his family following his death in 1965.

The glove, circa 1927-33, is now the highlight of the 19th annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Auction at Hunt Auctions. The auction begins at 11 a.m. ET on Nov. 12 at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory with in person and online bidding.

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.

Also See: Albert Pujols 700th home run ball up for bid at Goldin 

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.

Babe Ruth with his Spalding glove in the 1920s.

Babe Ruth with his Spalding glove in the 1920s.

Also See: Historic Ty Cobb bat up for bid at Heritage 

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'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 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.”

Also See: Rare Ty Cobb, T206 cards discovered, coming to 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 features a Ruth single-signed baseball once owned by well-known memorabilia dealer and show promoter Rich Altman. The “Hollywood/Altman” ball was acquired by Altman more than 25 years ago from a descendent of the original recipient. It has been graded PSA NM-MT 8 and has an estimate of $100,000-$300,000.

Also featured is the only known example of a 1948 Swell Sport Thrills Jackie Robinson rookie card. Graded PSA 9, it is signed by Robinson and carries an estimate of $100,000-$150,000.

The auction also includes hundreds of pieces of baseball memorabilia from the 19th century to present, including collections owned by former MLB player/coach Chuck Cottier and former MLB pitcher Tommy Byrne.

Other highlights include:

• A 1949 Tommy Byrne New York Yankees World Series ring in presentational box (Est. $10,000-$20,000).

•A 1931 Babe Ruth autographed baseball from his 602nd career home run ($40,000-$60,000).

• A Eddie Collins autographed professional model baseball bat, c.1920s, graded PSA 6 ($25,000-$50,000).

• A Babe Ruth autographed “Pride of the Yankees” baseball with Gary Cooper ($15,000-$30,000).

• A 1919 World Series Game #8 ticket stub from the series-clinching game ($15,000-$25,000).

• A 1970 Willie Mays professional model baseball bat graded PSA 9.5 ($15,000-$25,000).

• A Sandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers equipment bag, c.1960s, ($10,000-$15,000).

• A 1958 Bill Mazeroski Gold Glove award ($30,000-$50,000).

• A Roberto Clemente professional model baseball bat, c.1965-68, ($10,000-$15,000).

• A Johnny Bench professional model catcher’s mitt, c.1978, ($25,000-$50,000).

• A 1979 Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies professional model home jersey ($20,000-$30,000).

• A 1996 Chuck Cottier New York Yankees World Series ring ($10,000-$20,000).

• A rare 1995 Ichiro Suzuki Orix Blue Wave professional home model jersey ($15,000-$25,000).

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