Babe Ruth bat matched to 1923 game sells for $1.3 million at auction: Why this sale matters


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A Babe Ruth bat, matched by photo to an exhibition game from 1923, sold for $1,323,000 at auction last weekend, Robert Edward Auctions announced. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The bat, a Babe Ruth Hillerich & Bradsby signature model, was found to have been used in an October 1923 benefit game in which Ruth hit a home run, the description said.
  • Graded a GU 10 by PSA/DNA, the uncracked bat is nearly 36 inches long and weighs 41.9 ounces. It shows signature signs of use by Ruth, including a left-barrel contact area and a scored handle.
  • The sale was not a record for a Ruth-used bat; earlier this year, Hunt Auctions announced a private sale for a bat used by the slugger circa 1920-21 for $1.85 million (a record for any player’s bat). Another Ruth bat sold for $1.68 in August 2022.

How was the bat identified?

PSA/DNA found the model to be dated from the 1922 to 1924 manufacturing period. The company was able to determine that the knob, handle and barrel dimensions of the bat are “easily recognized” as “His Model,” which was later assigned the model number R2, despite the fact that H&B did not assign model numbers to bats during the time period, according to the auction description. Records show Ruth ordered this particular model bat six times during the labeling period, the company said.

Why this sale matters

Despite this not being a record for a Babe Ruth bat, it still passed that magic $1 million mark. And the photo matching was really a bonus to the research already done in verifying it was a Ruth bat.

It’s especially poignant because Ruth hit a home run with this bat (albeit in an October exhibition, but still). It’s not just a nondescript “game used bat” — it’s one he used to do what he’s famous for. So you hold this 100-year-old piece of wood and there’s the specter of a Ruthian blast still attached to it. — Di Fino

What it means for the industry

The advances in verifying the bat will help lessen any fears or wonder about what the bat did in game action. It’s an exciting manner of verification that helps erase $150,000 to 200,000 worth of doubt in prices, maybe? I’d guess similar Ruth bats will hover around this price and maybe a future one — where he hit a home run in an actual game — could be the one to set a record. — Di Fino

Required reading

(Photo of Ruth statue: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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