A baseball jersey worn by The Bambino sold for more than US$4.4 million Sunday, a record for any item of sports memorabilia, according to the buyer and seller.
SCP Auctions, based in California, said the circa 1920 New York Yankees uniform top is the earliest known jersey worn by Ruth and it fetched $4,415,658 at the company's April auction, which ended Sunday. That price broke the previous record of $4,338,500 set in 2010 for James Naismith's founding rules of basketball.
Lelands.com said it submitted the winning bid for the jersey, which had been displayed for years at The Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum in Baltimore. The road top has "New York" written across the front and the Hall of Fame slugger wore it shortly after he was sold to the Yankees by the Boston Red Sox for $100,000 following the 1919 season.
Suzan French, a spokeswoman for Lelands.com, said the company plans to sell the jersey privately rather than re-auction it.
"Such a spectacular piece will find a home with one of our private clients who truly appreciates its historic significance," Lelands.com president Michael Heffner said in a statement.
Ruth retired in 1935 with 714 home runs, the major league record for nearly 40 years. Hank Aaron broke that mark and then was passed by Barry Bonds, who finished with 762.
In addition, Ruth's 1934 New York Yankees cap that was owned by former major league pitcher David Wells sold for $537,278 at auction. The colorful Wells bought the cap for about $30,000 from a collector and famously paid homage to his idol by wearing it on the mound with the Yankees during a game on June 28, 1997.
Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor's New York Giants Super Bowl ring from the 1990 season went for $230,401.
Those items also set records, for a baseball cap and a Super Bowl ring, SCP Auctions said.
"This proves again that Babe Ruth is 'king' in the sports memorabilia world," SCP Auctions president David Kohler said in a statement.
Also included in the auction was the high-end baseball card collection belonging to former big league All-Star Dmitri Young. Top prices were a 1954 Hank Aaron rookie card ($537,954) and a 1955 Roberto Clemente rookie card ($432,690). The proceeds will help Young begin a foundation to help kids and student athletes near his home in Ventura County, Calif., SCP Auctions said.
Other auction highlights included:
— 1924-28 Babe Ruth H&B professional model game-used bat ($591,007).
— 1968 Mickey Mantle autographed New York Yankees game-worn road jersey ($366,967).
— Circa 1931 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees game-worn home jersey ($275,706).
— Bobby Thomson's 1951 "Shot Heard 'Round the World" cap ($173,102).
— Jackie Robinson 1950 All-Star game professional model bat ($133,234).