Babe Ruth’s ‘Called Shot’ Jersey Up for Auction

This summer, the baseball world is abuzz with excitement as one of the most iconic artifacts in the sport’s history, Babe Ruth’s purported jersey from the legendary “called shot” in the 1932 World Series, is set to take center stage at Heritage Auctions. With an estimated value of $30 million, this gray road flannel could potentially become the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.

The roots of this jersey stretch back nearly 92 years to a game at Wrigley Field where Ruth famously pointed towards the stands before hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs. This moment has since become a pillar of baseball folklore, steeped in mystery and debate. The authenticity of Ruth donning this jersey during that historic game has been reinforced by photo matching from two separate companies, further heightening its allure and potential worth.

Previously auctioned in 2005 by Grey Flannel Auctions for $944,000, the jersey was originally consigned by the daughter of one of Ruth’s golfing companions. Over the years, it has undergone careful conservation by the Textile Conservation Workshop to mend a tear while preserving its original state. The jersey impeccably matches the style of the Yankees’ uniform from 1932, further solidifying its historical significance.

Chris Ivy, the Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage, emphasized the jersey’s unparalleled importance in sports memorabilia: “Ruth’s World Series jersey is the most significant piece of American sports memorabilia to be offered at auction in decades. It will hold the record as the most expensive sports collectible ever to cross the auction block.”

Currently, the title for the priciest sports memorabilia belongs to a Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card, sold for $12.6 million in 2022, also at Heritage Auctions. The highest sum ever paid for a Ruth jersey stands at $5.6 million for a circa 1928-1930 model, sold by Hunt Auctions at Yankee Stadium in 2019.

The lineage and distinctive features of Ruth’s “called shot” jersey, including button placement and specific stains, have been meticulously scrutinized. These subtleties are crucial for authenticators like MeiGray, who treat each game-worn jersey as unique as a fingerprint. This detailed examination ensures that potential buyers have concrete visual evidence supporting the jersey’s claim to fame.

Ruth’s unforgettable home run endures as a pivotal moment in baseball annals, not just for its theatrical nature but also for the myth it generated. Despite conflicting testimonies about the incident, Ruth’s boldness and skill on that day only contributed to his legendary status. The jersey will be showcased at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland this summer, in anticipation of the auction scheduled for August 23-25.

This forthcoming auction not only commemorates a pivotal fragment of sports folklore but also accentuates the expanding market for premium sports memorabilia, drawing in aficionados and collectors eager to possess a slice of baseball history.