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Babe Ruth Baseball Bat Breaks Auction Sale Record Thanks to Photo Evidence

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Hunt Auctions

A bat used by Babe Ruth has been sold for $1.85 million, setting the record for the most ever obtained for a baseball bat. The price was reached thanks mainly to “photographic corroboration” that specifically tied the item to Ruth.

The previous record for a sale of a baseball bat was also for one used by The Great Bambino which was sold by Heritage Auctions for $1.68 million last August.

As reported by ESPN, the bat was last purchased at auction in 2018 by collector Justin Cornett for $400,800, but at the time did not have a photo that could specifically tie it to Babe Ruth. Before it was sold this week, a DNA photo expert by the name of Henry Yee matched the bat to a photo of Ruth from 1921, which increased the value of the bat significantly.

This is the only known example of a piece of sports memorabilia that came with what Hunt Auctions describes as “photographic corroboration.” It was assigned the highest grade (GU10) by Professional Sports Authenticator in addition to being photo matched to 1921 season, leading to its high sale price.

Babe Ruth
Hunt Auctions

“I am very familiar with the ‘Polo Grounds’ Babe Ruth bat, bringing it into the hobby 30 years ago,” John Taube of PSA Pro Bat Services tells ESPN in a statement provided by Hunt Auctions.

“The rich brown patina and the Ruth characteristics that were present, then and now, establish the bat as one of the premier Babe Ruth game-used bats in any collection, public or private.”

Hunt Auctions has a history with specifically Babe Ruth-related memorabilia. Back in 2019, the auction house partnered with Babe Ruth’s family along with select additions from elite third party collections to offer what it characterized as the largest assemblage of personal items and artifacts relating to the baseball legend.

Hunt Auctions

“The auction featured over 400 items and attracted die hard collectors, historians, investors, and sports fans worldwide including international participation from Japan with bidding outpacing estimates on many high-profile items,” Hunt Auctions recalls.

Hunt Auctions

“Most notably, a Babe Ruth New York Yankees professional model road jersey dating to the 1928-30 period soared to $5,640,000 breaking the record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia to have ever been sold. A select group of intense bidders competed against each other to settle in at the record price which smashed the previous amount of $4,400,000 previously held by a 1920 Babe Ruth jersey.”

So in addition to holding the record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold, Hunt Auctions can now also claim to have sold the most expensive baseball bat.

“It is without surprise that the Babe has once again pushed yet another sports memorabilia category to record pricing territory,” David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions, tells ESPN. “This baseball bat is as close to a work of art as the medium can allow.”

Image credits: Hunt Auctions

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