A bat used by New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig that dated back to 1922 was sold for $1,025,000 by Heritage Auctions in Dallas this past week.
The auction house initially had the item up for auction in the February lot with a $950,000 reserve. The bat did not meet the reserve, but Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage, said a private buyer came in after the auction to purchase the item.
"We had been discussing the bat with [the buyer] over several conversations the last couple weeks," Ivy said. "He decided to pull the trigger last week and make the purchase."
The bat had traded hands privately before this sale but had never been sold publicly or at auction.
Ivy said this is the most significant Gehrig bat in the hobby because it is one he sent to Hillerich & Bradsby, which made Louisville Slugger bats, when he joined the Yankees in 1924. Gehrig sent it to be used as a model for any other bats the company produced for him.
"He sent this one back and said, 'Like the specs, I like the length, I like this weight, and I like how this bat was created in the factory,'" Ivy said. "So he sent it back, which is when they dated it on April 22, 1925, and said this is the bat I want you to use to create my future bats."
The million-dollars-plus that the bat demanded makes it rare in itself, as Ivy said only a handful of sports items can fetch that price. The bat Babe Ruth used to hit his first home run at Yankee Stadium sold in 2004 for $1.3 million, and a game-worn Gehrig jersey in the February lot at Heritage Auctions sold for $870,000.
"We actually sold a 1937 Lou Gehrig jersey in a different auction. It was worn multiple games," Ivy said. "Typically in that time, they would only wear four jerseys for an entire season; two home and two road jerseys, and they would alternate. We sold that in August of last year for $2.58 million."
As far as Gehrig bats go, Ivy said the most expensive bat the auction house had sold from the former great had been in the $400,000 range. This one eclipsing that mark made noise throughout the industry and set a new mark for valuable baseball memorabilia.