Babe Ruth jersey sells for $4.4 million, most expensive sports memorabilia ever

May 21, 2012 - 9:18 am

The Sultan of Swat apparently knows no recession. On Sunday, Babe Ruth's 1920 Yankees jersey, the earliest known to still exist, was bought for a record-breaking $4,415,658. The winning bid, made by memorabilia auction house Lelands.com, surpassed the $4,338,500 paid in 2010 for Dr. James Naismith's founding rules of basketball, making Ruth's jersey the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia in history. SCP Auctions, which ran the sale, had been speculating it would go for at least $1 million. Lelands, however, presumably expects the jersey to eventually sell for even more than its $4.4 million price tag, as the company intends to turn around and sell it to a private collector. "Such a spectacular piece will find a home with one of our private clients who truly appreciates its historic significance." said Lelands president Mike Heffner. The jersey is the road model Ruth wore in 1920, his first season after leaving the Red Sox. Coincidentally, Ruth's old house in Sudbury also is for sale. The owners are evidently hoping to cash in on the Bambino's name as well, listing the house for $1.65 million -- more than half a million more than real estate website Zillow.com estimates the house to be worth. Also during this past weekend's auction, a 1934 Ruth hat -- famously purchased and worn by David Wells for one inning during a game in 1997 -- set a record for a cap when it was sold for $537,278. Wells, who paid $35,000 for it, sold it to raise money to renovate his old high school's field in San Diego. Lawrence Taylor's Super Bowl XXV ring, sold by Taylor's son, T.J., brought $230,401.