Just over 100 years after his Boston Red Sox won the 1918 World Series — their last until another championship stretch that’s continued into 2018 — Babe Ruth has returned to the spotlight thanks to a decades-old baseball he autographed.
Robert Edwards Auctions announced this week that a Wilson & Co. “Official League” ball signed by Ruth sold for $144,000 on Sunday. And the sale is significant not only because of the ball’s price but because of its age. According to the auctioneer, the autographed item was likely manufactured between 1916 and 1925, the time period when Thomas E. Wilson founded the sporting goods company responsible for the ball’s name.
Bidding for the ball, which includes The Bambino’s autograph with “Babe” in quotation marks, a style the longtime New York Yankees great apparently ditched in the 1920s, started at $25,000.
The Ruth-signed ball wasn’t the only big-ticket item from MLB history that brought in top dollar, either. Among the hottest sellers at this week’s fall auction, which netted Robert Edward Auctions a total of more than $8 million, was a 1971-72 Pittsburgh Pirates jersey worn in a game by late Hall of Fame slugger Roberto Clemente.
That item, knitted by Rawlings, went for $66,000.
Also sold at the auction: A signed 1933 Babe Ruth Goudey card, which set a record for the highest-priced autographed card by going for $132,000; a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card, the “most iconic trading card of the post-World War II era,” which also went for $132,000; and a 1930 Lou Gehrig game check from the New York Yankees, which was made out for $2,198.38 at the time but sold for $30,000 at the auction.
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