Find out about the rarest and expensive sports collectibles in the sports memorabilia market: valuable game use memorabilia, sports cards, and rare sports autographs
Most of the highest priced sports collectible are rare sports memorabilia. Rarity is a big factor in determining the value of a autographed sport collectables. In the context of the supply and demand formula, if a certain collectible is in demand but supply is scarce, then the higher is market price will be . Otherwise, if a particular sporting collectible is rare but is not sought-after by collectors, it would not cost much.
This article will present examples of some of the rarest, most expensive sports memorabilia.
Notice that most of them are game used sporting equipment like baseballs and baseball bats. Because they are being used in the game during important events in sports history, they could not be reproduced or mass produced unlike photos and sports cards. For example, there is only one authentic Mark McGwire 70th home run baseball and it is owned by a rich baseball fan. If you find another one elsewhere, surely that is a fake.
Examples of very expensive and rare sports memorabilia
- 2001 SP Authentic Tiger Woods rookie card
A very valuable sports card ,though it is not a vintage sporting memorabilia, is the autographed 2001 SP Tiger Woods rookie card. It has a grade of 10 which means it is in perfect condition and quality. This is according to the standard of Beckett Grading Services (BGS). BGS is one of the most trusted names in grading and evaluating the condition and authenticity of sports memorabilia. It has a very high standard for quality that they seldom give a perfect grade for sports items.
This makes the signed 2001 SP Tiger Woods trading card rare. In 2008, it had a market value of more than $16,000.
2. Babe Ruth All-Star Game Home Run Ball (1933)
The Babe Ruth All-Star Game Home Run Ball is probably one of the most mystical rare vintage sports memorabilia.
In July 6, 1933 at the Comiskey Park in Chicago, Babe Ruth hit the first home run in his entire baseball career. But it was not an ordinary historical event. As the baseball soared through the air, a man from the audience named Earl Brown reached for the ball and eventually he had stopped and caught it with his bare hands. The audience went wild and cheered loudly both for Ruth’s outstanding hit and for Brown’s nice catch! Brown had the ball autographed.
At an auction in 2006, the 1933 Babe Ruth home run baseball was sold together with Earl Brown’s ticket stubs, a notarized letter from Brown’s wife, and a newspaper that recorded that unforgettable game. This rare sporting memorabilia collection cost $805,000.
3. Babe Ruth Sale Contract (1920)
January 6, 1920 was a shock to all Boston Red Sox baseball fans. That day they learned that Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. And fate had seemed to turn its back from Red Sox since then. In 1921, Yankees won for the first time and this went on in 1922 and in The World Series in 1923.
Selling Ruth to the Yankees was both controversial and mysterious. Some reports said that the Red Sox owner (who was also a theatrical producer) needed the money to finance a Broadway play. On the contrary, a book tells that it was Babe Ruth’s decision to move to Yankees because it offered him higher compensation which he readily accepted (to keep up with his vice). He had an attitude problem so Red Sox had to let him go.
The Babe Ruth signed contract that proves that the Red Sox have agreed to sell the legendary baseball player to the Yankees was sold at an auction for $996,000 on January 2005. It holds the record of being the most expensive sports memorabilia document.
4. Signed First Home Run Bat At Yankee Stadium (1923)
April 18, 1923 was a milestone for the New York Yankees as it started their first World Championship Season with the opening of the Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth had “christened” the stadium with a home-run. It had been said that that first hit and home-run had “marked the final transfer of power from Red Sox to the Yankees.”
The first home run Babe Ruth bat at the Yankee Stadium was sold at an auction in 2004 for $126,500,000, making it one of the most expensive baseball bat memorabilia in history. It was bought by an anonymous New York-based sports collector.
5. Joe DiMaggio Journal
The Joe DiMaggio diary has more than 2,400 pages and 29 volumes. It covers the New York Yankee star’s life from 1982 to 1993. Known to be reserved and shy, Joe DiMaggio expressed his thoughts more in this journal. However, he himself never written in this book very private details about his life and never spoke ill things towards his ex-wife Marilyn Monroe.
In 2007, Steiner Sports had the diary for sale with a starting bid of $1,500,000.
6. Mark McGwire 70th Home Run Baseball (1998)
Mark McGwire had always shown great potential as a baseball player and home run hitter. In 1987, he broke a single season home run record for rookies with 49 and broke another record in 1998 for his home run number 62. And he did it again, still in 1998, as he broke yet another record with his 70th home run.
Because of his outstanding records, he was hailed as the Babe Ruth of the 1990s.
In 1999, the Mark McGwire 70th home run baseball was sold for $3 million at an auction. The ball was bought by Todd McFarlane, the creator of the best-selling comic book Spawn which became an award winning series in HBO and a $100 million-grossing movie. He reasoned he is a sports fanatic and would throw his entire successful career out if he could play center field in the major leagues.
The Mark McGwire baseball holds the record of being the most expensive sports memorabilia.
A rare sports memorabilia collection
A collection of rare sports memorabilia envied by many collectors and sports hobbyists belongs to Joel Platt. Platt is the founder of Sports Immortals which aims to preserve the memories of achievements of the greatest athletes in sports history. The sports memoribilia collection is hailed by the world’s largest museum, Smithsonian Institution, as the most outstanding single collection. Other passionate sports collectors call it “a great collection” and “the finest collection vintage sports memorabilia in the world”.
The collection contains legends sports memorabilia like Jim Thorpe’s Carlisle Indians football jersey and the athlete’s 1912 Olympic scrapbook, signed Lou Gehrig baseball, autographed boxing gloves by Jack Johnson and other boxers, etc. Platt also owns a specimen of the most valuable & expensive sports collectible, the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card.