The market for baseball memorabilia proved to be as strong as ever yesterday as the bat used by Kirk Gibson in game one of the 1988 World Series sold for $575,912, making it the second-most expensive bat in history.
It was the centrepiece of a collection of memorabilia sold by Gibson including his World Series trophy, series MVP award, game-worn jersey and batting helmet. The bat was used to hit one of the most famous home-runs in baseball against Dennis Eckersley, winning the game and ensuring its place in sporting history.
The bat's value is second only to Babe Ruth's legendary "Louisville Slugger", used to hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium in 1923. It was sold for $1.26m in 2004, and remains the most iconic bat in baseball.
Five of the six items were bought by the father-son collecting team of Chad and Doug Dreier for an astounding $1.19m in the SCP auction on Sunday morning. It is the growth of such online auctions that has driven the market for baseball memorabilia through the roof in recent years.
The market has primarily seen interest in the fathers of modern baseball such as Ruth or Ty Cobb, with baseball cards being particularly prized by collectors. Earlier this year a 1916 Babe Ruth Sporting News card sold for a record $82,250, and a mint T206 Ty Cobb card would cost you around $111,000 on today's market.
But more and more investors are looking towards the modern game as they seek to grab a piece of history. The World Record price for baseball memorabilia was set in 1999 when Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball of the season sold in New York for just over $3m.
As Gibson's bat has proven, the 1988 World Series is itself extremely popular with collectors and many have speculated on the price of his home-run ball from game one of the series. It's currently missing, caught by a lucky fan and hidden away for 22 years, but could fetch close to seven figures if it were to re-appear.
With auctions continuing year after year to break sales records for such items, it seems the Dreier's may have got themselves a bargain.
Baseball is deeply ingrained in American culture and the legends that surround it continue to grow, creating an aura around it's memorabilia for collectors and fans alike. It seems buying into 'America's Pastime' may be a great way to see your investment grow too.
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