Babe Ruth contract, 1927 ring up for auction
May 28, 2017
Two items that can be considered the Holy Grail of Babe Ruth memorabilia are up for auction.
Ruth's 1927 World Series ring and the 1919 contract of Ruth's sale from the Red Sox to the Yankees are part of the first Lelands.com Invitational Auction.
The auction, which takes place through June 30, features many unique and high-value sports memorabilia items.
The five-page contract is the Yankees' copy that Barry Halper once purchased from former owner Jacob Ruppert's estate. It is considered the most important document in sports history. Not only did it start the Yankees on a path of winning 27 World Series titles — including four with Ruth — but it doomed generations of Red Sox players and fans under "the curse of the Bambino." The curse wasn't lifted until 2004, when Boston won its first World Series in 86 years.
That Ruppert copy was sold privately in 2005 and hasn't changed hands until now. It started with an opening bid of $100,000 and was up to $235,795 as of Friday.
There are three copies of the Ruth contract. The Red Sox copy was sold for $996,000 to a Yankees fan during an auction at Sotheby's in 2005. The American League copy has never surfaced.
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"I've always wanted to create an auction where there is the best of the best," Lelands.com chairman Josh Evans said. "This is an auction where you can really focus on each product and go all out. These are items that only come to the market once in a lifetime."
Ruth's ring, which is for the first of four titles he won with the Yankees, could fetch the highest price of all the items. It also started at $100,000 and had a current bid of $313,842.
That season Ruth had one of the greatest years in baseball history with a .356 batting average, 60 home runs and 156 RBIs. He went 6 for 15 in the World Series sweep against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with two home runs and seven RBIs.
The auction also features the ball that Pete Rose hit to break Ty Cobb's hit record; Sandy Koufax's rookie jersey with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955; a 1950-51 Joe DiMaggio game-used uniform; a 1957 Willie Mays New York Giants game-worn, signed jersey from his last Polo Grounds game; and a 1939 Lou Gehrig game-used bat.
The most unique non-baseball item might be the Olympic gold and silver medals won by Chandler Egan in 1904. That was the last time golf was an Olympic sport until it returned for the Rio Games. The medals were recently found in a bookcase in the former home of Egan's daughter in Ohio.
"A consistent theme from the sale is that there is tremendous crossover historically for a lot of the items. There are multiple reasons why they are great," Evans said. "The Ruth contract changed our country, Koufax is a part of popular culture, and the golf medals are among the greatest golf awards."
Auction of NL constitution delayed over ownership dispute
LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. — An auction of the 1876 constitution that established the National League has been delayed because of a dispute over the document's ownership.
The constitution of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs was projected to fetch several million dollars at the auction set to open Wednesday.
But California's SCP Auctions, which was running the sale, says someone has come forward to challenge the veracity of the title.
The auction house has said only that the owner was the family of a former longtime National League executive. They would not give the name of the person or group challenging the ownership.
Baseball historians say the document, largely the work of Chicago White Stockings owner William Hulbert, laid out the business model followed by all modern professional team sports.