Babe Ruth’s 500th home run bat is set to fetch more than $1 million at auction

Babe Ruth’s 500th home run bat is shown before it goes up for auction by SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California, November 25, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

A piece of Babe Ruth memorabilia that was given to a friend 75 years ago could sell for a record price when it gets auctioned off this weekend , according to a California-based auction house.

Bids close Saturday on the bat used by the legendary baseball player to hit his 500th home run, and SCP Auctions CEO David Kohler said it’s expected to “bring in over $1 million.” 

The bat could break the previous auction record for a bat used in a game — the one used by Ruth in 1923 to hit the first home run out of the original Yankee Stadium, Kohler said in an interview. That bat, which is on display at the new stadium, sold for a record $1.3 million in 2004.

Babe Ruth’s 500th home run bat is shown before it goes up for auction by SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California, November 25, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Ruth’s 500th bat was a gift he bequeathed to the former Mayor of Suffern, New York, Jim Rice, back in the mid-1940s. Ruth befriended the former politician, says Rice’s son, Terry. The pair would often golf and go bowling after Ruth retired from baseball in 1935.

“They saw each other just about every day,” Terry told CNBC in an interview.

Terry and his sisters Pam and Patricia stored the bat in the family home for years and wouldn’t even tell friends about it, fearing it could get stolen. Terry said the bat was often stored in a closet.

“It actually became more of a burden,” Terry said. “We were concerned about it; we had to insure it. We figured maybe somebody else could appreciate it.”

Terry, who practices law in New Jersey, said the family insured the bat for more than $1 million.

Ruth’s personal items have fetched high prices at auctions. His 1928 to 1930 road jersey sold for a record $5.6 million earlier this year by Hunt Auctions.

“Babe Ruth is king in the sports memorabilia business,” Kohler said. “We feel (the 500th home run bat) has a very good chance of breaking the record.”

Babe Ruth’s 500th home run bat is shown next to a copy of the next days New York Times before it goes up for auction by SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California, November 25, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Ruth used the bat to hit a home run on August 11, 1929 against the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history to do so. Terry says the 500th home run bat still has “cleat marks” where Ruth “used to knockoff the mud.”

Added Terry: “It would be wonderful if the Yankees or the [National Baseball Hall of Fame] wanted to get it because it really is a very good piece of history.”

The auction will end on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET. An extension period for those who already placed bids on the bat could extend to 9 p.m. with the official the winner to be announced shortly after.

This story will be updated with the winning bid.

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