The Milwaukee Braves baseball jersey that Hank Aaron wore in 1954, the rookie campaign for the Hall of Famer, will be the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions’ April 21-22 Signature Sports Memorabilia Auction. It is expected to bring more than $200,000.
“Short of Babe Ruth, there are few baseball players more important or beloved than ‘Hammerin’ Hank Aaron,” said Chris Ivy, director of Heritage Sports Collectibles. “This is the gamer that was likely on those shoulders on April 23, 1954, when he hit the first of his 715 home runs.”
The historical appeal of the jersey is enhanced by the ghostly stitching pattern of a number “5” beneath Aaron’s trademark number “44,” a digit worn by Aaron only his rookie campaign. The team-instituted number change would suggest subsequent action in Aaron’s sophomore season, as well.
The jersey also contains a vintage black Sharpie salutation from the great slugger himself, “Best Wishes, Hank Aaron.”
Important game-used baseball memorabilia continues with the 1947 Triple Crown season vault-marked bat from none other than the “Splendid Splinter,” Ted Williams. The bat is estimated to sell for $75,000. This is the bat Williams returned to the Louisville Slugger factory to be used as a template for copies to be made, establishing it as his favorite.
“To think that this bat was in the hands of the greatest hitter the game has ever seen throughout one of his greatest seasons is a humbling thing,” Ivy said. “It’s arguably the finest Williams bat in the hobby.”
It’s rare that a modern piece of sports equipment can capture the attention of high-end vintage memorabilia collectors, but the swim cap worn by Michael Phelps in the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he won eight gold medals has done just that.
The cap, worn by Phelps as he swam the Butterfly stroke in the third leg of the 400-meter medley relay, literally capped the finest individual performance by an athlete ever rendered in international competition. It carries a pre-auction estimate of $20,000.
Jim Otto jersey
The history and popularity of the football – arguably America’s current favorite game – is epitomized by an exceedingly rare relic from the very first days of the American Football League in the form of Hall of Fame Oakland Raider center Jim Otto’s 1960 game-worn rookie jersey ($20,000 estimate).
“Very few players embody the early league, and the hardnosed, no-nonsense play that would come to typify the Oakland Raiders, more than Jim Otto,” Ivy said. “Considering how hard Otto played, and the obvious beating this relic took, its survival is a miracle and its value as a piece football history is unquestionable. This is not only the only surviving Otto rookie jersey, but the only known surviving jersey, period, from the Raiders’ inaugural season.”
Several prime cards in the auction from the heyday of 20th century baseball include a 1909-11 T206 Sweet Caporal Eddie Plank SGC 50 and a 1933 Goudey Sports Kings Babe Ruth, PSA 8. A complete set of the 1889 N43 Allen & Ginter “The Worlds Champions-Second Series” (50) will be in th e sale, perched at No. 1 on the SGC Set Registry. In what has been a regular auction appearance of late, an 1869 Peck & Snyder Cincinnati Red Stockings-Small Team Card, graded SGC 20, will also be in the lineup. Finally, a 1951 Bowman Gil Hodges PSA 9, the highest graded card of its kind, is expected to draw spirited bidding.
Further highlights include a 1991 Nolan Ryan seventh no-hitter game-worn Jersey accompianed by a letter from Ryan. Whether by elite genetics or pure force of will, Ryan’s 100 mph fastball did not abandon him as the decades rolled by, and he was still lighting up the radar gun at the advanced age of 44 when he took the mound in Arlington, Texas, to face the Toronto Blue Jays on May 1, 1991. It had appeared that the date would be remembered only for Rickey Henderson’s assumption of the career stolen base record from Lou Brock, but Ryan would expand upon the day’s speed theme with an overpowering performance to complete his seventh and final no-hit masterpiece.
Also looks for an 1859 Brooklyn Atlantics game-used Trophy Baseball, as seen on Antiques Roadshow. On June 23, 1859, the Brooklyn Atlantics and the Baltimore Pastime base ball clubs met in the first championship of organized baseball. This is the only known relic from that fabled game.
For more information on this auction, visit www.HA.com or call (800) 872-6467.