A baseball bat used by legendary player Babe Ruth to hit his 500th career home run has sold at auction for over $1 million.
An unnamed bidder on Saturday paid $1,000,800 for the bat, which Ruth held to smash his 500th homer while playing for the New York Yankees on August 11, 1929, according to California-based auction house SCP Auctions.
Ruth is widely considered one of the best baseball players of all time, breaking records both as a hitter and a pitcher. He was the first player in Major League Baseball (MLB) to hit 500 home runs, setting a benchmark by which players continue to be measured to this day. Only 27 players have done so in MLB history.
“Babe Ruth memorabilia continues to be among the most prized artifacts for all worldwide collectors, and this outstanding bat proved that once again,” David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions, said in a statement.
Ruth gave the bat to a friend named Jim Rice in the mid-1940s, and it had been in the possession of his family ever since, SCP Auctions said. The auction house called the bat a “national treasure” and said it was one of the most important discoveries in sports memorabilia.
The Great Bambino hit 714 home runs over his storied career – a record that stood for nearly 40 years until Hank Aaron broke it in 1974. The only other player to hit more than 700 home runs over their career is Barry Bonds, who smashed 762 and is the current record-holder.
Ruth won the World Series seven times, three times with the Boston Red Sox and then another four times with the Yankees.
The Red Sox’s decision to sell Ruth to the rival Yankees in 1919 is considered one of the biggest mistakes in American sports history. The Red Sox were one of the most successful franchises in baseball before getting rid of Ruth. After, they would have to wait another 86 years before winning baseball’s ultimate prize – a drought dubbed “the curse of the Bambino.”
Ruth was inducted into the Hall of Fame after his retirement in 1936. He died in 1948, aged 53, and his possessions remain widely sought after.
In June, a New York Yankees jersey worn by Ruth between 1928 and 1930 fetched $5.64 million at auction, making it the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold. That smashed the previous record set when his 1920 jersey sold for $4.4 million.
However, the sale of Ruth’s 500th home run bat did not break the record for the most expensive bat sold at auction. That title belongs to Ruth’s home-run bat from Yankee Stadium’s opening in 1923, which sold for a record $1.265 million at SCP Auctions in 2004.