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Babe Ruth bat sells for $1.26 mln

December 03, 2004 12:44 IST

The Curse of the Bambino may have ended this year but Babe Ruth proved to have plenty of clout at the auction table as the bat he used to hit the first homer at Yankee Stadium sold for $1.265 million on Thursday.

The big-barreled ash-wood bat wielded by baseball legend Ruth to help beat fierce rivals Boston Red Sox 4-1 in the inaugural game at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923, was the top item in a baseball memorabilia sale at Sotheby's.

It was purchased on behalf of an unnamed East Coast collector, Sotheby's said.

The home run by Ruth, who was sold to the Yankees by the Red Sox before the 1920 season, led to New York's new stadium being dubbed "the House that Ruth Built" in an early chapter of what became decades of baseball domination over Boston.

The so-called curse finally ended this year when Boston won their first World Series since 1918 by sweeping the St Louis Cardinals after staging the greatest comeback in postseason history to beat the Yankees for the American League title.

The hefty price for Ruth's bat fell short of the record memorabilia price of $3 million paid for the ball Mark McGwire hit for his 70th home run in 1998.

Ruth apparel was also highly valued. A pair of his flannel road uniform pants circa 1933 that was forecast to bring $15,000 to $25,000 sold for $109,250.

The first big league home run ball hit by a Yankee star of more recent vintage, Mickey Mantle, also fetched a big price. The ball, which Mantle signed and inscribed, "My First H.R. in the MAJORS, May 1, 1951, 4:50 p.m. Chicago," sold for $189,750.

Another highlight of the sale was property from the estate of former Brooklyn Dodgers star shortstop Pee Wee Reese.

Travis McCourt, son of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, bought four items tied to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship winning team, including Reese's 14-karat white gold championship ring with team photograph plaque that sold for $69,000.

"Next season is the 50th anniversary of the 1955 championship and it's very important to us," the Georgetown University senior said. "We're going to bring it all back to Dodger Stadium and do our best to put it all on display. It's all about the heritage and tradition of the team."

Larry Fine
Source:
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