This watch, awarded to Babe Ruth after the New York Yankees defeated the New York Giants in the 1923 World Series, gaveled for $717,000.
The back of the Babe Ruth watch. The tradition of awarding elaborately decorated rings to World Series champions has not yet been established in 1923.
This past weekend concluded one of the highest profile sports collectibles auctions in recent years. Held in New York City and hosted by Heritage Auctions, the Sports Collectibles Platinum Night Auction event featured historic collectibles tied to some of the biggest names in sports. In total, 143 different lots closed with the staggering total of $6.6 million. Here is a look at some of the most notable pieces.
One of the marquee items that was expected to realize the auction’s highest price, was the pocket watch once awarded to Babe Ruth. Long before World Series and League Championship rings became the norm, these types of watches were what the players of the winning team received. Heavily publicized before the auction, the piece garnered mainstream press coverage from numerous outlets.
“As the Babe’s personal award for the first world championship in New York Yankees franchise history,” said Chris Ivy, director of Sports Collectibles for Heritage, “I believe that this is the most important piece of New York Yankees memorabilia that exists.”
Ruth received the watch after the New York Yankees beat the New York Giants in the 1923 World Series. When the gavel dropped, the piece has sold for $717,000.
While that figure is certainly lofty, the auction results were one of the rare occasions that Babe Ruth finished as a runner-up to anyone. Whenever Muhammad Ali memorabilia comes to auction, it has the potential to re-write the record books. Such was the case at the Platinum Night event.
The Frager-brand boxing gloved worn by Cassius Clay in his 1964 victory over Sonny Liston realized $836,500, one of the highest prices ever seen for a piece of boxing memorabilia.
The iconic photo of Clay standing triumphant over Liston.
In 1964, when Ali was still known by his birth name of Cassius Clay, the young fighter took his first step to becoming “The Greatest” when he stunned the world by defeating reigning heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. In one of the most iconic photographs in sports history, Ali is shown towering over the conquered Liston. The boxing gloves worn by Ali during the bout were another of the auction’s featured items. The realized price for the gloves was $836,500, one of the highest prices ever seen for a piece of boxing memorabilia.
The show-stopper at the auction was this bat used by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson his rookie year of 1911. The bat received a final bid of a jaw-dropping $956,000.
Joe Jackson’s branded name on the barrel of his rookie-year bat. Despite being banned from baseball for his alleged role in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, Jackson remains one of the most collectible players in baseball history.
Despite the sale of these two highly anticipated pieces of iconic sports memorabilia, neither could compete with the night’s show-stopper. When all was said and done, the night belonged to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and the sale of a baseball bat that has been attributed as being used by Jackson during his rookie year of 1911. The bat received a final bid of a jaw-dropping $956,000. Despite being banned from baseball for his alleged role in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, Jackson remains one of the most collectible players in baseball history. The amount one collector was willing to pay for this bat is a testament to that fact.
The barrel of New York Mets’ Mike Piazza bat sold for $47,800. It is notorious because after Piazza broke the bat on a pitch by New York Yankee pitcher Roger Clemons, Clemons picked it up and threw it back at Piazza. Creating an instant collectible from one of the most captivating moments in New York City baseball history.
One of the most despicable displays of sportsmanship in baseball history occurred during the 2000 World Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. Dubbed the “Subway Series,” the city of New York was divided by team allegiances with tensions running high in the stands and on the field. During the first inning of Game Two, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens threw the broken bat barrel belonging to the Mets Mike Piazza directly at him. In doing so, he also created an instant collectible from one of the most captivating moments in New York City baseball history. Heritage Auctions sold the broken bat barrel for the unbelievable sum of $47,800.
This Lou Gehrig passport contains three signatures of the “Iron Horse.” The piece sold for a record-setting $262,900, the most ever paid for a passport.
Other notable collectible items from the Platinum Night event included pieces from legendary players like Lou Gehrig, Derek Jeter and Jim Brown.
In 1931, Gehrig was part of a group of American All-Stars that visited the country of Japan for a series of exhibition games. It was the first such visit to the island nation. The passport that accompanied Gehrig on that trip contains three signatures of the “Iron Horse.” The piece sold for a record-setting $262,900, the most ever paid for a passport.
This bat, used by New York Yankees team captain Derek Jeter in the 1996 World Series, also features a clean autograph in silver Sharpie and received the industry’s highest grade of GU10. The culmination of provenance, subject matter, condition and grade resulted in a final auction price of $155,350.
Longtime New York Yankees captain, Derek Jeter, who recently announced that the 2014 baseball season would be his last, also made an impact on the weekend’s event. A game-used bat from the 1996 World Series, which also features a clean autograph in silver Sharpie, was authenticated by leading game-used bat expert John Taube and received the industry’s highest grade of GU10. The culmination of provenance, subject matter, condition and grade resulted in a final price of $155,350.
This Cleveland Browns jersey, authenticated as being worn by Hall of Famer Jim Brown sometime between 1961 and 1965 sold for $95,600.
Not to be left out, the sport of football made a statement when a Jim Brown game-used Cleveland Browns jersey sold for $95,600. The jersey, authenticated by MEARS—an industry leader in game-used jersey authentication—attributed the jersey to being worn by Brown, sometime between 1961 and 1965. One of the greatest players in NFL history, this museum-quality piece now resides in the lucky hands of a private collector.
For a complete listing of the ended auction lots, visit the Platinum Night auction page on the Heritage Auctions website.
Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.
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