A coaching uniform worn by American baseball hero Babe Ruth is expected to fetch up to half a million dollars at a sports memorabilia auction in California this November.
Ruth, known as the "Sultan of Swat" and "The Great Bambino", was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers as first base coach in June 1938, wearing the grey jersey and pants that are up for auction for that season.
It is the "Holy Grail" for baseball fans, says auction house, Julien's Auctions on their website.
Ruth's uniform is one of many rare sports items from a private collection personally procured over a lifetime by Goodman Basil Espy III, M.D.
- or "G.B." for short.
The Atlanta-born medic holds historic items from sports, such as baseball, basketball and hockey.
These include a Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves "44" jersey worn during the 1974 season when he beat Ruth's home run record.
For Hollywood and sports memorabilia lovers, the "dream" item, according to Brett Hughes, Managing Director Global Sports for Julien's Auctions, is a dual-signed baseball by film star Marilyn Monroe and her then husband, American baseball player Joe DiMaggio.
"There are so few of these because their marriage was so contentious and also so short," Hughes told Reuters during an exclusive preview at London's Mayfair Hotel on Monday (September 23).
"Whether you're a fan of Marilyn, Joe, or just kind of that pop culture of that time period, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own it," he said.
"This item would go for 200,000 dollars and above." Olympic fans will remember the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" ice hockey game where the U.S. beat the four-time defending, gold-medal winning Soviet Union using American college players at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York.
The collection includes the Mike Eruzione, '21' USA jersey worn by him in that iconic match, which is expected to sell at auction for 20,000-40,000 dollars.
Other sporting gems also going under the hammer at the auction, which will be broadcast live online from Beverly Hills on November 14, include a Lou Gehrig-signed 1933 Major League contract for 23,000 dollars at the time (expected to fetch 80,000-100,000 dollars), Honus Wagner's Pittsburg Pirates coaching jersey (50,000-70,000 dollars), a Charlie Gehringer grey fannel jersey from the 1934 U.S. tour of Japan (100,000-200,000 dollars), and signed and worn sneakers and jerseys from basketball legends, Magic Johnson and Lebron James (3,000-20,000 dollars).
The sports collection made its transatlantic voyage onboard the RMS Cunard Queen Mary 2 ocean liner recently.
Some of the above items were on display to passengers travelling from New York on September 15 and arriving in Southampton, England on September 22.
"Sports is a global language, so having it on a global cruise line just made sense for everyone," said Hughes.
(Production: Sarah Mills, Lisa Giles-Keddie)