A unique baseball uniform worn by Babe Ruth during the New York World’s Fair has sold at auction for more than $220,000.
The uniform was the star lot of SCP Auctions’ Winter Premier Sale, which featured 1,000 lots of sporting history and realized a total of $3.4 million.
The 1939-40 New York World’s Fair was the second-biggest American world’s fair of all time, with an estimated 44 million people attended its futuristic exhibits.
The city’s three baseball teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and the New York Yankees, were all used to promote the fair, but there was one iconic player who led the celebrations: Babe Ruth.
Despite having retired from the game in 1935, Ruth remained one of the biggest names in baseball, and his larger-than-life personality and natural exuberance made him the perfect choice as a spokesman for the Fair.
Ruth appeared everywhere from parade floats to business meetings, greeting crowds and even offering batting tips to kids – all whilst wearing a one-of-a-kind baseball uniform.
Ruth’s special uniform was made by A.G. Spalding & Bros., and bears patches with the two symbols of the fair: the 700 ft-tall spire-shaped Trylon, featuring the world’s longest escalator, and the 18-story, 200-foot-tall Perisphere, a gigantic sphere containing a model of the ‘City of Tomorrow’.
Having worn the uniform dozens of times in service of his beloved New York, Ruth packed the uniform away and it remained in his collection for years, before being loaned to the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore by his surviving family decades later.
Offered with an estimate of $50,000, the uniform fetched a final price of $227,853.
"It’s no surprise that once again, Babe Ruth carried the day in an auction featuring a broad array of historic sports memorabilia," said Dan Imler, vice president of SCP Auctions.
"The ‘Sultan of Swat’ still resonates with collectors more than any other name in sports history, nearly 70 years after his passing."
The uniform was one of four items consigned directly from the Ruth family themselves, having spent almost 70 years in their private collection.
The sale also included a wooden chest hand-made for Ruth by inmates at the Sing Sing prison, which sold for $23,386; a carved wooden folk-art statue made for Ruth, that spent years on display in his home, which sold for $15,035; and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings made for Ruth by his manager Christy Walsh, which sold for $1,980.