Babe Ruth’s famous ‘called shot’ jersey up for auction in August

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Sara Molnick
Wednesday May 22, 2024

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Babe Ruth is one of the most important players in the history of the New York Yankees, and everything related to him is highly valued. Thus, Heritage Auctions announced Tuesday that the jersey worn by New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth during his iconic “called shot” in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series will be up for auction in August.

What happened?

Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions’ director of sports auctions, expects the sale of the road gray Ruth jersey, which is being made available to the public for the first time in 19 years, to set a new record for a sports collectible at auction. The jersey could potentially fetch more than $30 million when it goes under the hammer from Aug. 23-25.

The jersey was last sold in 2005 by Grey Flannel Auctions for $940,000. At the time, it was dated to the 1932 season and believed to be from that year’s World Series. However, MeiGray Authenticated has now photo-matched the jersey as the one Ruth wore specifically in Game 3.

Jim Montague, MeiGray’s vice president of authentication, explained that several factors helped distinguish this jersey from those of previous seasons, such as the unique positioning of the “Y” on the front of the jersey about the buttons and placket. Montague noted that back then, everything was hand-stitched, and the placement of names, numbers, and collar stitching was done manually, resulting in distinct variations that make each jersey unique.

Babe Ruth’s ‘called shot’ jersey: A historic auction

The jersey worn by New York Yankees icon Babe Ruth during his legendary “called shot” in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, his 10th and final Fall Classic, is set to make history once again as it goes up for auction in August. Heritage Auctions expects the jersey to potentially surpass $30 million, setting a new record for a sports collectible at auction.

The iconic moment occurred during the fifth inning of Game 3 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, with the score tied 4-4. Ruth stepped to the plate and pointed, though the intended target of his gesture remains a topic of debate. Regardless, he proceeded to hit a towering home run estimated at 440 feet to center field off a Charlie Root curveball, forever cementing the moment as Ruth’s “called shot.”

Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions’ director of sports auctions, described the jersey as a one-of-a-kind item and the most significant sports collectible ever to come up for auction. He expressed confidence that it could exceed the $30 million mark.

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The jersey was previously sold by Grey Flannel Auctions in 1995, with the listing stating that while experts agreed on its authenticity and originality, they could not definitively confirm it as Ruth’s 1932 World Series jersey.

MeiGray, the firm responsible for photo-matching the jersey to Game 3, also researched the Yankees‘ jersey orders from that era. Barry Meisel, MeiGray’s president and COO, revealed that the Yankees ordered only three road grays and three home whites over an entire year, carrying one over into the following year. By analyzing the nuances in Spalding’s company tags and collar details, MeiGray was able to confidently prove the jersey’s authenticity and link it to the specific event.

The jersey worn by Babe Ruth during his iconic “called shot” in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series has been photo-matched by MeiGray Authenticated, potentially increasing its value as it heads to auction in August. Jim Montague, MeiGray’s vice president of authentication, revealed that photography from the game aligned with unique details on Ruth’s New York Yankees jersey.

Montague pointed out a small notch in the “N” of “NEW YORK,” which appeared slightly askew, as well as a curved top of the “W” and a bend at the bottom of the “E,” which differed from images of jerseys from other years.

This is not the first time photo-matching has significantly impacted the value of a sports collectible, particularly with Ruth memorabilia. In April 2023, a Babe Ruth bat that sold for $400,800 in 2018 resold for $1.85 million, setting a new record for a baseball bat after “photographic corroboration.”

Barry Meisel, MeiGray’s president and COO, explained that the company believes every game-worn jersey is unique, much like a fingerprint. He emphasized that through forensic research and the use of actual photos of the shirt, MeiGray was able to make the determinations they did with the Babe Ruth “Called Shot” jersey.

Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions’ director of sports auctions, acknowledged the rarity of the jersey’s survival, noting that at the time, it held no intrinsic value and was simply a dirty old baseball shirt. Many such items were lost to time, sent down to minor leagues, or worn in practice until they fell apart and were discarded.

The jersey worn by New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth when he "called his shot" in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, which will be auctioned in August by Heritage Auctions, is expected to set a record for a sports collectible.
Heritage Auctions

Ivy emphasized the significance of the jersey’s survival for over 90 years, representing one of the most iconic moments not only in Babe Ruth’s career but also in the history of baseball, a sport deeply interwoven with the fabric of America.

NEW YORK (AP) – The jersey worn by Babe Ruth during his legendary “called shot” in the 1932 World Series is set to become one of the most expensive sports collectibles ever, with a bidding floor of $7.5 million. Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions’ director of sports auctions, expects the jersey to surpass the current records held by a near-perfect 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card ($12.6 million) and a jersey worn by Michael Jordan in Game 1 of the 1998 “Last Dance” NBA Finals ($10.1 million).

Heritage Auctions plans to showcase the Ruth jersey at various events leading up to the auction, including the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland in late July and previews at their New York City and Palm Beach offices in early August.

Ivy pointed out that the greatest pieces of vintage collectibles often have folklore that collectors and fans debate, such as the printing press/likeness back-and-forth of the T206 Honus Wagner or the water-bound dumping of 1952 Topps Mickey Mantles. The intrigue surrounding Ruth’s “called shot” lies in its elusiveness, as it may never be known for certain whether he actually called his shot or not.

Ivy believes that this mystery takes the jersey to the next level, as it is connected to a great moment in American sports history and a World Series, making it one of the most debated topics in the last century.

What do you think? leave your comment below.

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