It’s hardly news when Babe Ruth headlines an auction, but Brian Drent of Mile High Card Co. knows that a 1923-25 game-used bat from the “Sultan of Swat” is enough to turn heads, and that gets elevated even more when the bat in question boasts an apparent home run notch and a MEARS 10 rating to boot.
The H & B bat opens at all of $35,000 in the Dec. 7 Mile High Auction, and not surprisingly, has Drent singing its praises. “This is our best bat ever,” Drent said, adding that “we’ve been told it’s one of the top four or five Ruth items in the hobby. We expect it to sell in the neighborhood of $200,000-$225,000.”
The auction also features two unique display pieces: the 1912 Boston Garter advertising display sign (Hal Chase and Eddie Collins, $6,000) and the renowned 1933 Goudey Big League Gum window sheet ($2,500).
Ruth gets additional marquee space with a single-signed Harridge ball that opens at $5,000 and by Drent’s estimation could top $20,000 and a 1915 Sporting News blank-back PSA 8 Ruth described as one of only two known which could reach between $110,000-$150,000. Ruth also gets the nod with a 1921 American Caramel in PSA 6 and a 1948 Leaf in PSA 8, the latter being one of the key cards in the second-highest graded 1948 Leaf set in the PSA Registry, which Mile High is breaking up and selling in individual lots. Drent figures that grouping could total more than $200,000 when all is said and done.
Ruth’s rival for the title of “Greatest Player of All Time,” Ty Cobb, gets plenty of play in the auction with a fascinating 1914-15 H & B bat ($5,000), along with four T206 White Borders, including the Bat on Shoulder, Off Shoulder and Green and Red Portrait cards, plus a 1915 Cracker Jack Cobb in SGC 88 ($7,000) and a 1932 U.S. Caramel in PSA 8 ($2,600).
Toss is a game-used Mickey Mantle from late in his career ($5,000) and the hardwood section of the auction seems imposing indeed. But has always been the case, it’s the cardboard that rules in a Mile High sale.
“We’re also breaking up a 1935 National Chicle Football set,” Drent noted, citing a sterling edition of the colorful issue that features more than half the set in PSA 8 holders. He’s no less enthused about an 1895 Just So Tobacco McKean in SGC 70. “I haven’t even seen one offered in six years,” said Drent, adding that this Just So card may be the top-condition specimen that he’s ever encountered.
He’s also pumped about an 1887 N690-1 Kalamazoo Bats Pittsburg B.B.C. cabinet card that Drent notes is the only one known, credentials that he figures could propel it into the $35,000-$50,000 range.
There are dozens of lots of pristine Goudeys, a figure that jumps into the hundreds when postwar Topps and Bowman classics are the topic at hand. Joe DiMaggio gets the well-deserved royal treatment with a 1939 Play Ball in GAI 9.5 ($5,000) and another in PSA 8 ($1,000), plus a Play Ball Ted Williams (PSA 8, $2,000), a GAI 9 Mint 1948 Bowman Yogi Berra ($2,000) and a 1948 Leaf Satchel Paige in GAI 8 that opens at $12,500.
The massive Topps and Bowman roster includes a 1951 Bowman Whitey Ford rookie in PSA 9 that Drent postulates might reach $50,000, and a 1949 Bowman Ralph Kiner that nabbed a PSA 10 designation, plus things like a 1952 Bowman Willie Mays (PSA 8, $2,500) and a 1952 Topps card of the Say Hey Kid also in PSA 8 ($2,000). Some of the other postwar headliners include a 1952 Topps Duke Snider in GAI 9 and a stunning 1954 Topps Henry Aaron rookie in SGC 96.
Some of the other sets in the spotlight include a 1953 Red Man Tobacco set with tabs, a 1954 Red Heart set entirely graded PSA 8, a remarkable 1955 Topps Doubleheader set that was No. 2 on the PSA Set Registry ($6,000), another entirely PSA-graded set, this time 1955 Topps, with fully 187 of the 206 cards logged at PSA 8 ($8,000), plus high-grade complete sets from 1956-57 and 1959-63, plus there is a 1966-67 Topps Test Hockey set (No. 1 on Set Registry) and a unique lot consisting of 176 Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers cards from 1948-73, with the majority in PSA 8. Drent figures that unusual high-grade lot could reach as high as $25,000.
For more information about the Mile High Card Co. auction, call (303) 840-2784 or go to the website at www.milehighcardco.com.