Many people love to collect memorabilia that relates to a topic in which they are interested. Just some examples of the items that people collect are shoes, keyrings, toys, stamps, and pottery. Some sports fans love collecting sports memorabilia from their favorite sport.
While most will limit their collection to saving their match tickets or buying their team's hats and kits, others are willing to spend huge amounts of money to buy rare or historically significant items. Some baseball fans have spent staggering sums of cash on baseball bats, and here are the five most expensive baseball bats ever sold.
5. 1988 World Series Kirk Gibson Bat - $575,912
A Kirk Gibson bat is the best baseball bat on the list, as it was used in game one of the 1988 World Series. Several pieces of memorabilia from that fateful match were included in a 2010 SCP Auction, including Gibson’s bat, which was the most successful item sold on the night, bringing in $575,912.
Several more of Gibson’s items were, and while these also went for high price tags, none sold for anywhere near the price of the bat. Gibson’s series jersey sold for $303, 277.20, and his batting helmet achieved $153,388.80. Another item from the sale was the World Series trophy, which took $45,578.40.
4. Joe Jackson Bat from 1911 - $956,000
Rarest lists a Joe Jackson Bat as the fourth most expensive baseball bat ever sold. It sold for a whopping $956,000 at a New York City auction in 2014. Jackson played with the 35-inch bat in 1911, when he was still a rookie.
If Jackson were alive at the time of the auction, he would probably have been surprised at how much his bat brought at the sale. He was from humble beginnings and was only earning a salary of $6,000 a season at the height of his career. Just eight years after using the bat, Jackson was banned from baseball after throwing the World Series.
The bat was not the only expensive item of sports memorabilia sold at the auction. Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves that he wore in his 1964 match against Sonny Liston sold for $836,500. Another item that went for a high price was Babe Ruth’s commemorative pocket watch from the 1923 World Series, which fetched $717,000.
3. 1919 Ty Cobb Bat - $1.1 Million
In 2021, one of Ty Cobb’s baseball bats sold in a private sale for $1.1 million. Neither the buyer nor the seller of the bat has been publicly named. The PSU memorabilia graders gave the bat their highest rating, GU 10, due to the detail of the item and its preservation.
Some interesting statistics about the bat are that it measures 34.5-inches long, weighs 40-ounces, and is from between 1919 and 1922. Across the bat’s grip, it was taped in a spiral pattern and had been coated in Neatsfoot oil. The black coloration and deep cleat impressions on the bat's back barrel are typical of bats used by Cobb.
Another feature of the bat is tobacco juice residue. Ty Cobb was nicknamed the Georgia Peach, as he was born in Georgia on December 18, 1886. He began his career with the Detroit Tigers in 1905, and famously played for the team for 22 seasons.
However, it was not the only team he played for, as he ended his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. After retiring from professional baseball, Cobb toured Europe before returning to his roots. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 17, 1961.
2. The 1922 Lou Gehrig Bat - $1.14 Million
The second most expensive baseball bat ever sold was a 1922 Lou Gehrig baseball bat that sold at a 2020 Heritage Auction in New York for $1.14 million. As the bat was used by Gehrig before joining the Yankees in 1924, the bat has the nickname ‘Bat Zero.
Gehrig used this bat as a model for the branded bats he had made after joining the Yankees. It is one of the larger bats used at that time, as it weighs around 40-ounces. When the bat was handed to Heritage to sell at their auction, they did background checks.
They used player records and contacts to date the bat to the 1922 season. As soon as they discovered the age of the bat, they knew the item would make big bucks at the auction.
Although it is one of the most expensive baseball bats ever sold, it is not the most expensive item of Lou Gehrig memorabilia, as his 1937 jersey sold for $2.58 million in 2019.
1. Babe Ruth’s First Baseball Bat - $1.265 Million
According to Worthly, the most expensive baseball bat ever sold was Babe Ruth’s first baseball bat. Many people regard Babe Ruth as the greatest baseball player of all time, so it is hardly surprising that a bat used by the legend tops the list.
The 36-inch Louisville Slugger is made of ash and weighs 40-ounces. It's not the bat’s specifications that led to it selling for a staggering $1.265 million at a 2004 auction. It is the bat that Ruth used to hit his first home run at the Yankee Stadium in 1923. It is inscribed with the words “Boy Home Run King.”
The Yankee Stadium later became known as “The House that Ruth Built.” For more than 60 years, the same person owned the bat. It was gifted to Victor Orsatti in 1923, just after Ruth hit his first home run.
Orsatti kept the bat until his death. Babe Ruth began his career playing as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, although he is best known as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees, the team he was with from 1920 to 1934. Ruth ended his career playing for one season for the Boston Braves.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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