The Most Expensive and Bizarre Sports Memorabilia Ever Auctioned Off
Sports fan are a passionate bunch, and nothing displays that more than the great lengths some fans will go to in order to acquire some sports memorabilia from their favorite players and teams. Sports memorabilia ranges from the bizarre (jockstrap) to the incredibly rare (1927 World Series ring), and it often costs a small fortune to acquire.
Here are some of the most expensive, bizarre, and unique sports items ever auctioned off…
Muhammad Ali’s Fight of the Century Gloves
The Fight of the Century took place on March 8, 1971, between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The historic fight was the first time two undefeated boxers fought each other for the heavyweight title. It was also Ali’s third fight after his three-and-a-half-year suspension for avoiding the draft.
The two boxers squared up against each other in one of the greatest boxing matches in history, with Ali being handed his first loss in his career following a grueling 15 round battle that ended in a unanimous decision. Ali would avenge his defeat by besting Frazier in the Super Fight II in 1974 and the Thrilla in Manila in 1975. The gloves worn by Ali during his first bout against Frazier went for an astonishing $606,375.
Hank Aaron’s 755th — and last — Home Run
Many people would consider Hank Aaron to be the greatest slugger in history. Aaron played in the big leagues for 23 seasons, clobbering home runs with ease year after year, and all unaided by steroids. Aaron’s greatest single feat as a ballplayer, and there are plenty to choose from, was when he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record by swatting his then-record 715th homer.
Aaron, after his monumental 715th home run, continued to hit the long ball during his last season and on July 20, 1976, crushed his 755th — and final — home run, setting the MLB record that would stand for decades. In 1999, Aaron’s final home run ball was purchased for $650,000 by a Connecticut resident.
Sheffield Football Club Rules
When you boil it down, soccer (or football as the rest of the world calls it) is a very simple game. The game is primarily played with one’s feet, and the objective is to put the ball in the net more times than the other team. Simple, right? Well, when the game was being invented and the rules were being hashed out, it wasn’t so black and white. Well, the boys of Sheffield sought to change that and began to codify the modern game of soccer as we know it.
The rules were written in 1857 and belonged to the world’s oldest football team, Sheffield F.C. They are credited with the development of key aspects of the game including heading balls and the creation of the goalkeeper position. The rules were auctioned off to an anonymous bidder in 2011 for $1.2 million.
Curt Schilling’s 2004 Bloody Sock
Curt Schilling’s 2004 postseason was one for the ages. The pitcher single-handedly willed the Red Sox to a Game 6 victory over New York, setting up a crucial Game 7, which the Sox took. In that Game 6, Schilling, who had a serious ankle injury, pitched through pain and stitches.
The injury became visibly apparent to all those who watched, with Schilling’s sock becoming soaked with blood. In 2013, the sock from what is now known as the “Bloody Sock Game” was auctioned off for $92,613. The reason Schilling auctioned off his prized, blood-soaked sock was because of the massive amount of debt he incurred when his video game business venture failed.
Paul Henderson’s 1972 Summit Series Jersey
The 1972 Summit Series, held during the Cold War, was a nationalistic battle held on ice between two of the world’s greatest hockey teams, Canada and the former Soviet Union. The competition was designed to prove once and for all who the most superior team on the planet was. The first four games were held in Canada and the last four in Moscow.
In the deciding eighth game, with the series knotted at three wins apiece and one tie, Game 8 was considered one of the most important hockey games ever. With 34 seconds remaining in a tie game, Canadian hero Paul Henderson slipped the puck by the Russians on their home ice, giving Canada the series victory. In 2010, his jersey from the iconic game was auctioned off for $1.275 million, making it one of the most expensive jerseys ever sold.
Honus Wagner T206 Card
The T206 Honus Wagner card sounds more like a spacecraft than a vintage baseball card. Honus Wagner, nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman,” was one of the greatest MLB players to ever do it. Wagner was an eight-time NL Batting Champion and one of the most consistent players of the “dead ball” ever.
From 1909-1911, the American Tobacco Company produced their T206 series baseball cards, some of which bore Wagner’s likeness. Wagner took exception to this, for reasons unknown, and refused to allow production to continue on his card. Anywhere from 50-200 of these cards were ever produced, making it one of the most cherished collector cards ever. In 2013, Wagner’s 1909-11 T206 card sold for $2.1 million in an online auction, $500,000 more than when it was sold back in 2008.
Miracle on Ice Goalie Mask
The Miracle on Ice is considered the greatest upset in hockey history. The U.S. team, comprised of amateurs, upset many favorites in the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament, including the heavily favored Soviet Union team made up of professionals. The Soviets had won the gold medal in five of the six previous Winter Olympic Games.
The U.S. wasn’t nearly as successful, until February 22 of 1980l. That is when the team full of amateurs shocked the world, upsetting the Soviet Union 4-3 before capturing the gold medal against Finland. The goalie on the team, Jim Craig, began selling off his equipment from the Miracle on Ice game. The highest-priced item, Craig’s goalie mask, sold for $137,849.16.
Rules of Basketball
Unlike baseball and football, basketball is inherently a simple sport, that is before you factor in the crazy amount of rules that have bogged down the purest form of the game. At the end of the day, one of the world’s most popular sports comes down to putting your ball in the other team’s basket more times than your opponent. Easy.
In 1891, James Naismith outlined 13 rules that defined what would become basketball. Naismith, after inventing the game, founded the University of Kansas’ basketball program in 1898 and coached them for nine years. In 2010, KU alumnus Davis Booth purchased the original rules at an auction for $4.3 million, which at the time was the highest price ever paid for sports memorabilia.
1963 Ferrari 250 GTO
Ferrari is the creme de la creme when it comes to luxury cars. People, since the brand started making the luxury automobiles back in 1939, have become enthralled with Ferrari’s sleek design, supreme handling, and big engines that allow for high speeds and quick starts. Out of all the cars Ferrari has produced, none are more iconic or valuable than the 250 GTO.
Produced from 1962-1964, Ferrari only manufactured 36 of these stallions, meaning the supply is limited but the demand, thanks to wealthy car collectors around the globe, is high. In 2018, David MacNeil, the founder of WeatherTech, purchased a Tour de France-winning 1963 250 GTO for $70 million, making it the most expensive vehicle in the world.
Barry Bonds’ 756th Home Run Ball
Matt Murphy paid $100 for a $12 ticket to get into AT&T Park on Aug. 7, 2007, to potentially watch a glimpse of history. What he got in return was a lot more. On that fateful night, Bonds smashed his 756th home run of his illustrious, albeit controversial, career, breaking the MLB home run record held for decades by Hank “All Natural” Aaron.
Murphy caught the moonshot and with it a fat payday. After some deliberation on what to do with the piece of cork and leather, Murphy opted to auction off the memorabilia, which commanded a cool $752,467. Should Bonds get into the Hall of Fame, this number will certainly rise.
Babe Ruth’s 60th Home Run
In 1927, Babe Ruth re-wrote the record books when he smashed his 60th home run of the season. Ruth was a part of the vaunted Yankees hitting trio dubbed “Murderers Row.” That season, New York would win the World Series, a foregone conclusion from early in the season.
What wasn’t set in stone was whether Ruth would be able to break his own record of 59 home runs. On September 30, Ruth clobbered a ball off Tom Zachary, setting the new record which would stand for decades. The bat that Ruth used to break the record was auctioned off in 2018 for $660,000, making it one of the most valuable pieces of wood on the planet.
Steph Curry’s Mouthguard
You ever watch Steph Curry play? If so, you’ll notice a few distinct things about him, namely how smooth his shot is and how much he chews on his mouthguard. Seriously, Curry is going to choke on that thing if he keeps thrashing it around as he does. According to Curry, the reason behind the intense chewing and chomping is he finds it to be therapeutic.
He also swaps out his mouthguards every three to four games, meaning chewing through it is never an issue. In 2015, Curry left behind one of his custom mouthguards marked with the Warriors logo and his name and number. SCP auctions scooped the mouthguard from a fan and auctioned it off in 2016 for $3,190.
Muhammad Ali Vs. Floyd Patterson Gloves
The record price for a pair of boxing gloves worn by the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali, was $1.1 million. Purchased by Lorenzo Fertitta, the co-owner of the UFC, Ali’s gloves came from a title fight back in 1965 against Floyd Patterson. Leading up to the fight, Patterson continued to disrespect and disparage Ali, referring to the fighter by his birth name, Cassius Clay.
Ali, in turn, hurled back defamatory remarks, calling Patterson an “Uncle Tom.” The fight lasted 12 rounds before the referee called a technical knockout, giving Ali the WBC.Ring/lineal world heavyweight championship. Fertitta outbid Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, who put up $1 million.
Babe Ruth’s 1918 Contract
The Sultan of Swat. The Babe. A man of great nicknames and even more home runs, Babe Ruth is the most famous baseball player of all time. He is also one of the players behind one of the most infamous trades in baseball history, the trade that sent the Boston Red Sox back nearly an entire century.
In 2014, an anonymous bidder bought the Babe’s 1918 Boston Red Sox contract for a staggering $1.02 million. The document included signatures of Ruth, American League President Ban Johnson, and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, who sold the pitcher/slugger in 1919 to the New York Yankees, triggering the now-broken “Curse of the Bambino.”
Nolan Ryan’s Jockstrap
The greatest pitcher of in history may also have the strangest fans in history. Pitching legend Nolan Ryan, who currently works as an advisor to one of his former teams the Houston Astros, one of his former teams, pitched a record-setting seven no-hitters over the course of his career. Like most baseball players, Ryan had to protect his crown jewels, and did so by wearing a jockstrap. Nothing too crazy, right?
Wrong. One passionate Ryan fan bought the jockstrap from Ryan’s seventh no-hitter back in 1991 for $25,000. Someone, some super fan with a lot of liquid assets, opted to spend $25,000 for Ryan’s most intimate article of clothing. Guess that fan could hold his jockstrap…
David Ortiz’s Beard Clippings
Baseball fans are crazy. They have strange obsessions with their favorite players who have strange superstitions. The common theme here is baseball players and that adoring fans are a bit eccentric. That peculiar passion was on full display back in 2013 when a Red Sox fan decided to spend $10,877.77 on beloved Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s beard clipping.
Ortiz was one of baseball’s most recognizable characters, thanks to his shapely beard, big personality, and even bigger ability to come through in the clutch. Along with the beard clippings, the auction included the razor used to shave down baseball’s best beard and an autograph.
The FA Cup Trophy
Soccer in Europe is a religion. And that religion is seemingly fueled by a never-ending cycle of tournaments. One of those tournaments is England’s FA Cup, which is the oldest national football competition in the world. Not to be confused with the most prestigious. The FA Cup pits virtually anyone with two legs and a pair of cleats against each other. The tournament began in 1871, with its original trophy getting stolen.
Following the heist, a replica trophy was introduced in 1896 as a replacement. In 1911, the original trophy design was replaced by the design that is currently in use today. Thus, the 1896 replica of the original is the oldest surviving FA Cup trophy, and the only one to go on sale. In 2005, the trophy was auctioned off for $620,000.
Babe Ruth’s 1927 World Series Ring
They say winning is priceless. That may be true, but the associated rings and jewelry that champions receive after winning definitely has a price, and a large one at that. Babe Ruth capped off his historic 1927 season with a World Series victory. He also got a World Series ring. Although the rings back then were smaller, less flashy, and less valuable, they were still pretty impressive.
They, like a fine wine, also grew more valuable with age. In 2017, Babe Ruth’s World Series ring, which was owned by Charlie Sheen, was auctioned off for $2,093,927. That sum, at the time, was more than four times the prior record for a sports ring auctioned off.
Tom Seaver’s Used Toothpick
One of only two players in the Baseball Hall of Fame to don a Mets cap, former pitcher and 12-time All-Star was an absolute monster on the mound. Seaver won one World Series and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer back in 1992.
That same year, an unidentified buyer bought a used toothpick from the Mets and Reds legend for $440, about $800 today thanks to inflation. Rumor has it Seaver found the toothpick in his warm-up jacket and knew there would be some crazed baseball fan willing to shell out a pretty penny for it. Look for Seaver’s floss to make the auction list next.
Rules of Baseball
To an outsider, baseball is probably thought of as a complicated, slow game. Or is that American football? Either way, baseball is not as simple or natural as other games, at least from a distance. In 1856, Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams defined how the game was to be played.
The original rules outlined everything we know and love, including the beloved home run. At a 2016 auction, the Laws of Base Ball sold for $3.26 million, then the third-most for a piece of sports memorabilia. The buyer of the expensive set of rules that dictates the many intricacies that make up baseball opted to remain anonymous.
Julius Erving’s ABA Championship Ring
Remember when the Nets were relevant and successful? Neither do we. Sports historians may remember, though. Back in 1974, the New York Nets ruled the ABA, thanks to Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s high-flying ability. That was the first of two ABA Championships for Dr. J.
In the NBA, Irving would replicate his ABA success and won the 1983 NBA Finals with the Sixers. After retiring, Irving began selling off some of his most valuable memorabilia. The reason was partly altruistic, with Irving wanting to donate some of the proceeds to charity. One of the items he sold off was his 1974 championship ring, which fetched $460,471.
Babe Ruth’s 1919 Contract That Made Him A Yankee
We mentioned Babe Ruth’s last contract with the Boston Red Sox. On the flip side of that was the new contract that made him a Yankee. After the disappointing 1919 season, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000. Frazee also received a $300,000 loan from the Yankees for a mortgage on Fenway Park. Once that trade went through, the curse went live.
The Yankees would go onto win 26 World Series while the Red Sox kept losing in heartbreaking fashion. In 2004 the Red Sox finally won the World Series, 86 years after their last victory in 1918. The contract fetched $996,000 at an auction in 2005 and has yet to be sold at more recent auctions. To date, one of the largest bids for the piece of paper was $5 million, which was somehow rejected by the owner.
Michael Jordan’s Shoes from the 1984 Olympic
Michael Jordan had an amazing rookie season. In fact, his 1984 year was amazing all together. Before being taken third overall in the 1984 NBA Draft, Jordan starred in the Olympics. At the time, the Olympics was strictly an amateur-only event, which meant Jordan, still at UNC, was eligible to play.
In the 1984 summer games, he led the team in points, averaging 17.1 ppg, all while wearing Converse sneakers. Jordan had yet to sign a shoe deal with Nike and was still years away from his own custom brand, meaning he rocked plain shoes like everyone else. In 2017, Jordan’s Converse sneakers from the gold-medal game against Spain, which happened to be the last time he wore Converse, were auctioned off for $190,373.
Utah Jazz Court from the 1998 NBA Finals
The 1998 NBA season was supposed to be Michael Jordan’s last. Accordingly, Jordan’s final shot, the Finals-winning jumper to crush the Jazz, was supposed to be his list. The iconic shot is burned into the minds of NBA fans everywhere. That NBA Finals garnered the highest Nielsen TV ratings in NBA history.
It also provided fans with one of the most quintessential Jordan moments. In a 2015 auction, the backboard, hoop, net, and stand that Jordan shot his fateful game-winner on, the shot to secure his sixth championship, was sold for $41,825 by Heritage Auctions. Will the anonymous buyer shoot on the hoop, or will that hoop’s last bucket come from His Airness himself?
Kirk Gibson’s Bat from the 1988 World Series
Kirk Gibson’s heroic performance in the 1988 World Series is one of the greatest single plays in MLB history. Gibson, the 1988 league MVP, was severely hampered by two leg injuries going into the World Series. Because of those injuries, he was not expected to play. The Dodgers, the heavy underdogs, trailed Oakland by one run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. With a runner at first and no good options at the plate, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda inserted Gibson into the game as a pinch hitter.
In what would be his only plate appearance of the World Series, Gibson smacked a home run off Fame closer Dennis Eckersley to win the game. L.A. took the series in five games, with Gibson’s homer becoming the lasting image from the series. The bat from the iconic home run, and L.A’s last World Series victory, was auctioned off for $575,912 in 2010.
Robert Griffin III’s Foot Cast
Well if the demand is there, RGIII should have no problem supplying casts to the memorabilia-hungry market; that’s because RGIII is, sadly, always injured. Griffin’s career has been more defined by injuries than the electrifying plays he was supposed to make when he was drafted second overall in 2012. The former Baylor star did not learn how to avoid hits in the NFL, and has paid dearly for this.
In the second week of the 2014 season, Griffin dislocated his ankle following a big hit and was carted off the field. In the offseason, Griffin put his foot cast up for auction to raise money for his charity, with the winning bid of $1,522 coming from a podiatry student and Redskins fan.
Luis Gonzalez’s Already-Chewed Gum
Luis Gonzalez is the man who hit one of the most clutch RBIs in MLB history. In Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Gonzalez stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning with one out and the bases loaded. The game was tied at 2-2. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Gonzalez lofted a bloop single just out of the infield.
With one swing, Gonzalez became an Arizona icon and sealed himself in baseball’s dense history books. Gonzalez, a known gum chewer, had a piece of his used gum auctioned off in 2002 for $10,000. The proceeds went to charity. Gonzalez, because of the constant attention, was relieved the entire ordeal was behind him, stating, “I’m through with it. This is it. This is not a once-a-week bubble gum show.”
Kansas City’s 2014 Wild Card Goggles
Partying with ski goggles is all the rage. When baseball teams party, they bust out the beer and the champagne. The locker room gets covered in plastic and the entire spectacle becomes a booze-filled slip and slide. To shield the players’ eyes from champagne and beer, teams in recent years have started to provide ski goggles. While they may look goofy, they are highly effective.
In 2014, the Kansas City Royals went on an improbable run in the postseason, starting with a 9-8 Wild Card win over Oakland followed by sweeps of the Angels and Orioles. After, they advanced to the World Series undefeated, but faltered to the Giants in seven games. Prior to that defeat, K.C. partied like it was 1999. The goggles they wore during their Wild Card revelry were auctioned off for $500 a pair.
Jeff Nelson’s Actual Bones
Not many people outside of die-hard Yankee and Mariner fans know of Jeff Nelson. A four-time World Series-winning pitcher, Nelson underwent elbow surgery in 2002 to remove some loose bone in his elbow. The surgery was a rather mundane procedure, but after things took a turn for the bizarre.
Nelson decided to auction off his bone pieces on eBay to help raise money for his daughter’s school and the Curtis Williams Foundation. The bidding opened at $250 and climbed within hours to $23,600. eBay, upon learning of it learned of it, halted the auction because it violated their terms of selling body parts.
Tom Brady’s Rookie Card
The greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady holds the NFL record for Super Bowl victories with six. The man behind the Patriots dynasty wasn’t always pegged to be a star, however. Taken 199th overall (sixth round) in the 2000 NFL Draft out of Michigan, Brady was never slated to be a starter, let alone a star.
All that changed in 2001 after a Drew Bledsoe injury forced Brady into the game. The rest is history. Speaking of history, in 2019, the most valuable NFL card was ever sold, a 2000 Tom Brady rookie card. Only 100 of the cards were produced, and, because of that limited supply, it sold for a gargantuan $400,100.