$188K Mantle jersey and $156K Babe Ruth bat come out swinging in Grey Flannel auction

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. – Fierce competition for professional sports memorabilia in Grey Flannel’s April 29 Summer Games auction kept phone lines and the Internet buzzing. “We were swamped,” said Grey Flannel president Richard E. Russek. “We knew we were going to have a good sale three days before it closed, because of all the inquiries and signups.”

The final tally for the 854-lot auction was $1.4 million (all prices quoted are inclusive of 20 percent buyer’s premium). As predicted, the two most highly publicized lots finished at the top of prices realized.

Pro Basketball Jerseys
Issel Denver ABA jersey

A 1975-76 Dan Issel Denver Nuggets game-worn ABA road jersey emblazoned with the distinctive red, white and blue Nuggets basketball logo realized $44,434.
Pete Maravich jersey
“Pistol” Pete Maravich’s game-worn 1979 All-Star Game jersey achieved a price befitting the hardcourt legend: $44,884.

The earliest known Mickey Mantle game-used autographed home jersey, worn by the young Oklahoma phenom in his first years with the Yankees, took the blue ribbon with a closing bid of $188,318. Not far behind was a Babe Ruth bat from the 1926-1929 period, into which the legendary slugger had carved 11 notches to represent 11 home runs. Accompanied by painstakingly researched provenance, the bat crossed home plate at $155,628. Both the Mantle jersey and Ruth bat sold to private collectors.

A great surprise, Russek said, was the number of underbidders who had never before participated in a Grey Flannel auction. “There were many extremely important items in this sale, and they drew the true collectors out of the woodwork.”

A trend that did not go unnoticed was the interest in material related to the ABA, the basketball league that merged with the NBA in 1976. The fourth-highest-selling lot in the sale was a 1975-76 Dan Issel Denver Nuggets game-worn ABA road jersey. Emblazoned with the distinctive red, white and blue Nuggets team logo, the colorful jersey realized $44,434.

Another popular lot was the jersey worn in the 1979 All-Star Game by a legendary NBA Hall of Famer, “Pistol” Pete Maravich (1947-1988). A historic jersey worn by the basketball superstar who remains the all-time leading NCAA Division I scorer, it sold for $48,884.

Rounding out the top five, a Tom Seaver 1971 New York Mets game-worn and autographed flannel home uniform hit the ball out of the park with a very strong selling price of $41,434.

Bidders didn’t hold back on the two Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend VIP packages entered in the sale. “There was a lot of excitement over these lots, because this is the year that Michael Jordan is going to be inducted, and the packages include all-access passes, introductions and many exclusive invitations.” The package for two people was auctioned for $11,990, while the package for four earned $11,695.

Grey Flannel Auctions’ Sept. 12 Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction will include such treasures from the hardcourt as a 1972-73 Dave DeBusschere New York Knicks game-used road jersey with a hand-signed LOA (letter of authenticity) from DeBusschere, a 1979-80 Larry Bird Boston Celtics game-used rookie home jersey with equipment manager’s LOA, and a 1984-85 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls game-used rookie home jersey with team LOA.

For prices realized for the April 29 Summer Games auction and details about the Sept. 12 Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction, visit www.greyflannelauctions.com, call 631-288-7800 or e-mail gfcsports@aol.com.