With the sports card market still booming, game-worn memorabilia items are also experiencing a surge on the red-hot sports collectible market.
Especially game-worn memorabilia from such legends as Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Kobe Bryant.
A 1954 New York Yankees flannel jersey worn and signed by Mickey Mantle just sold for $615,000 at Heritage Auctions. The sweat-stained road jersey, which has Mantle’s name embroidered on the inside collar, was worn by Mantle during the 1954 season, when he batted .300 and drove in more than 100 runs for the first time.
“Mantle jerseys are just hard to come by,” said Mike Provenzale, sports operational supervisor at Heritage Auctions. “There were a few a year but many did not survive. So, there are only a handful out there.”
The Mantle jersey was the top-selling item in Heritage’s Fall Sports Catalog Auction, which ended Saturday and generated more than $26 million, far exceeding pre-auction estimates. The auction also set a record with more than 4,300 bidders worldwide, the most ever to participate in a single sports sale.
“This has been an extraordinary year for our consignors and our clients, and we’re thrilled to have ended 2021 the way it began and kept on going, with yet another shot heard ’round the sports-collecting world,” said Chris Ivy, president and founder of Heritage Sports. “Collectors have long known Heritage as the premier house for these museum-worthy items, and we’re proud to have yet again exceeded their expectations, as well as our own.”
The top-selling card was a 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson rookie card (graded PSA 8), which sold for $444,000. A 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson (graded PSA 9) also sold for $360,00, while a 1951 Mickey Mantle rookie card (PSA 8) attracted $420,000.
While the auction featured numerous high-selling vintage trading cards, it was highlighted by several valuable pieces of game-worn or game-used memorabilia.
Other top-selling items includes:
• A 1946 New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio game-worn and signed jersey, which sold for $216,000.
• A pair of 1996-97 Kobe Bryant game-worn and signed Adidas EQT Top Rookie Sneakers for $192,000. (Another similar pair from the same season sold for $150,000).
• A game-used 1924 Walter Johnson single-signed baseball from the 1924 World Series for $180,000.
• A 1949 Ted Williams game-used bat for $168,000.
• A 1931 Babe Ruth single-signed and inscribed baseball from his 571st career home run for $156,000.
• A 1985 Baseball Hall of Fame ring presented to Lou Brock from the Lou Brock Collection for $132,000.
• A 1973 Al Kaline game-used glove from the Al Kaline collection for $126,000.
• A 1968-70 Pete Maravich game-worn LSU jersey for $111,000.
• A 1984 Detroit Tigers World Series ring from the Al Kaline Collection for $87,000.
• A 1956 Stan Musial game-worn and signed St. Louis Cardinals jersey for $78,000.
Earlier this year, Heritage sold a 1980 game-worn Magic Johnson jersey from Game 6 of the NBA Finals for a record $1.5 million. Heritage officials say game-worn memorabilia is gaining value on the market.
“Game-worm materials are always going to be strong,” Provenzale said. “We have seen incredible prices over the past year, baseball and basketball as well. Anything that was on the players back, on the field, in their hands is always going to be incredibly desirable to collectors.”
Heritage Sports Executive Vice President Derek Grady compares memorabilia like the 1954 Mantle jersey to top-selling cards like the Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle.
“Just as cards have gone up, memorabilia has gone up. … To me, it’s always been common sense,” he said. “A lot of the big collectors … there are a lot of major card collectors who have an incredible game-used collection. It is literally a piece of the game.”
Provenzale says the booming card market has had a big impact on memorabilia sales.
“That opened the door for people to move on to memorabilia and now we are seeing that, we are seeing great prices across the board for all kinds of memorabilia,” he said.