Babe Ruth’s ‘Called Shot’ jersey could fetch over US$30 million at auction

babe ruth jersey auction

Heritage Auctions believes it will become the most expensive sports collectible ever sold at auction

Collectors will have the chance to catch one of the most important pieces of baseball memorabilia in history this summer.

A grey New York Yankees jersey Babe Ruth wore during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series will go under the gavel at Heritage Auctions in late August. The auction house estimates the rarity could hammer down for US$30 million or more, setting a new world record in the process.

“Ruth’s World Series jersey is the most significant piece of American sports memorabilia to be offered at auction in decades,” Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage, said in a statement. “Given its history, its mythology, we expect that when the final bid is placed, it will hold the record as the most expensive sports collectible ever to cross the auction block.”

background wall of babe ruth with his jersey in front of it
The Babe Ruth jersey up for auction has been photo-matched and authenticated. Photo by Heritage Auctions

The “Called Shot” jersey, which bears Ruth’s No. 3, was a part of one of baseball’s most famous (and often debated) moments. The Sultan of Swat was sporting it as he stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series to face Chicago Cubs pitcher Charlie Root. With the score tied between the Cubs and Yankees, the slugger failed to hit the ball not once but twice. In between strikes, Ruth pointed to the centre-field bleachers. Whether he was calling out his shot, pointing at the pitcher, or just gesturing to the stands is still debated. With the next pitch, Ruth sent the ball over 134 metres to the section he had indicated. The Yankees went on to win that game seven to five and knocked the Cubs out of the Series the following day.

front of the babe ruth jersey up for auction
The front of the jersey. Photo by Heritage Auctions

In the slugger’s 1948 book The Babe Ruth Story, he said he pointed toward the centre field bleachers before Root threw his first pitch and again on his third. “I guess the smart thing for Charlie to have done on his third pitch would have been to waste one,” Ruth wrote. “But he didn’t, and for that I’ve sometimes thanked God. While he was making up his mind to pitch to me I stepped back again and pointed my finger at those bleachers, which only caused the mob to howl that much more at me. Root threw me a fast ball. If I had let it go, it would have been called a strike. But this was it. I swung from the ground with everything I had and as I hit the ball every muscle in my system, every sense I had, told me that I had never hit a better one, that as long as I lived nothing would ever feel as good as this.”

The back of the Babe Ruth jersey up for auction.
The back of the Babe Ruth jersey up for auction. Photo by Heritage Auctions

According to Heritage, Ruth later gifted the jersey he wore on that fateful day to a Florida man following a round of golf. It remained with the man until his daughter sold it for US$940,000 through Grey Flannel Auctions in 2005. Should the jersey hammer down for as much as expected in August, it will become the most expensive sports memorabilia ever sold at auction. That record currently belongs to a Mickey Mantle baseball card that sold for US$12.6 million at Heritage in August 2022. At least the top spot will still be occupied by a Yankee.

The jersey will lead Heritage’s Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction, which will take place in Dallas, Texas from August 23 to 25.

This story was first published on Robb Report USA