We begin by looking at the 11 (just to be different from 10) most expensive items of sports memorabilia sold or auctioned.
- Number 11 is Babe Ruth’s All-Star jersey worn in the 1933 All-Star Game which sold for $657,250 in a 2006 auction
- Number 10 is Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 756th home run ball which sold for $752,467 in an online auction.
- Number 9 is the only known complete uniform worn by Babe Ruth on a 1934 barnstorming tour of Japan which sold for $771,000 in a 2005 auction.
- Number 8 is a home run ball from the 1933 All-Star game signed by the Babe which sold for $805,000 in a 2006 auction.
- Number 7 is Babe Ruth’s jersey from the controversial “called shot” in the 1932 World Series. It sold for $940,000 at a 2005 auction.
- Number 6 is the contract used for the sale of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1920. This piece of paper sold for $996,000 in a 2005 auction.
- Number 5 is the bat the Babe used to hit the first home run in the original Yankee Stadium in 1923. It sold for $1.3 million in a 2004 auction.
- Number 4 is a Honus Wagner baseball card. There are only 57 such cards known to be in existence because when Wagner took an anti-smoking stand he had his baseball card removed from cigarette packages. The most recent one sold for $2.8 million.
- Number 3 is Mark McGwire’s record breaking 70th home run ball from the 1998 season which sold for $3.5 million. The same person bought Barry Bonds’ record breaking 73rd home run ball for $450,000.
- Number 2 is James Naismith’s original handwritten rules for basketball which sold for $4.3 million.
- Number 1 is the Bambino’s 1920 jersey which is his oldest known Yankee jersey. The price paid was $4.4 million.
Recapping these 11 items we find that 10 of the 11 items are from baseball. Of these 10 items, 7 are directly connected to Babe Ruth. Honus Wagner, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds each are connected to 1 item. Four of the baseball items are jerseys, 3 items are baseballs, and there is 1 each of a bat, baseball card and a special piece of paper. The only item not from baseball is from basketball. Yes, baseball is our National Pastime and I call Babe Ruth the Elvis Presley of baseball. As Elvis was and is still the King of Rock and Roll the Babe was and is still the King of Baseball. This statement is supported by the fact that items connected to these 2 icons have continued to increase in value many years after they died.
My own close encounter with a ball hit into the stands occurred when I was only 14. It was a weekday and a group of friends and I traveled from Hackensack NJ to Brooklyn’s Ebbetts Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers 1913-1957, in the early 50s to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play. We took our seats in the section behind first base near the right field foul pole. There was a high wall in right field and we made sure to get to the park early for batting practice. We knew balls would rebound off the wall into where we were sitting. Sure enough a ball rebounded close to where I was sitting. As I reached down to grab it a boy hit me from behind causing me to flop over the rail. He then picked up the ball and left me bruised and empty handed. Clearly, there must be some logical reason why fans put their body and sometimes their children’s body in harm’s way for a $4.00 ball. See the video below of a father holding and feeding his infant child with one hand and catching a foul ball with his other hand. Great catch but when my wife saw the video of the catch she was horrified that a father would put his child in danger- what if something had gone wrong? I would like to hear your stories and opinions.