They were the kings of their sports, so it is only fitting that a card of Babe Ruth and a ticket stub from Wayne Gretzky’s first NHL would generate some buzz in Mile High Card Company’s November Auction.
The Colorado-based auction house generated $5.7 million in total sales, and 43% of that came from a 1916 M101-4 Sporting News PSA 7 rookie card of Ruth, which sold for $2,460,000.
“We were pleased with the outcome of the Ruth rookie card, but the results all across the board only confirm that the hobby is still strong and getting stronger,” Mile High President and CEO Brian Drent said.
The stub from Gretzky’s first game, held at Chicago Stadium on Oct. 10, 1979, was from the first balcony and cost a mere $5.75. At the Mile High auction the stub, graded PSA 3, sold for $101,567.
Gretzky did not score in that game but assisted on Kevin Lowe’s power-play goal in the first period to cut the Chicago Blackhawks’ lead over the Edmonton Oilers to 2-1. Chicago would go to win the game 4-2.
The Great One, only 19, at the time, would go on to net 51 goals while adding 86 assists for 137 points during the 1979-1980 season.
Two modern era cards also fetched hefty sums. A 1993 SP Foil of New York Yankees Hall of Famer Derek Jeter that grades out at PSA 10 sold for $369,628, while a 2017 National Treasures Holo Silver card of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, a Rookie Jersey Patch Autograph with a 20-25 serial number, sold for $164,784. The card earned a 9 from Beckett Grading Services, while Mahomes’ signature was a BGS 10, or mint.
A card of Negro Leagues great Josh Gibson also pulled in six figures. A 1950-51 Toleteros card of the Hall of Fame catcher, which had a PSA 4 grade, sold for $106,648. According to Mile High, that price was five times higher than the previous record for that particular card and grade.
A pair of graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards — PSA 3 and PSA 2, respectively — sold for $70,367 and $34,210.
A 1956 Topps gray back card of Mantle, graded PSA 8.5, sold for $35,009. That was the same price sold for a 1951 Bowman card of another slugger — Willie Mays — which was graded at PSA 6.5. Another 1951 Bowman, of Mantle, sold for $44,308 for a PSA 6 specimen.
Completing the triumvirate of great sluggers, a 1954 Topps rookie card of Henry Aaron, which had a PSA 8 grade, sold for $64,515.
Cards from the 1956 Topps set other than the Mantle also did well. A PSA 9 gray back card of Jackie Robinson fetched $57,035, while a similarly graded gray back card of Ted Williams took in $32,274.
Even cards in poor grade did well at auction. A 1948 Leaf card of Satchel Paige that was a PSA 1.5 sold for $22,906, a $10,000 leap in price for a similarly graded card. A PSA 3 version of the same card sold for $27,534. Another card from the ‘’48 Leaf set, a PSA 5 of Robinson, sold for $34,714.
Vintage basketball did well during the auction. A 1957 Bill Russell card that graded PSA 6.5 sold for $42,197. A 1961 Fleer card of Wilt Chamberlain (PSA 8) fetched $50,548, while a similarly graded Oscar Robertson card from the same set went for $21,488.
In modern basketball, Michael Jordan figured prominently in two auctions. A 2001-01 SP Authentic Sign of the Times Triple autograph card of Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson sold for $45,388. A solo autograph card of Jordan, from the 2007 Upper Deck Chronology set that is a PSA/DNA certified 9 and numbered 28/99, sold for $21,307.
Legendary golfer Bobby Jones (labeled as R.T. Jones) was part of the sale as well, in a PSA 9 version from the 1926 Lambert & Butler Who’s Who in Sport. The card sold for $43,225, topping a previous record that had been set at an earlier Mile High auction.
Fans of the 1969 New York Mets and the ’69 Topps set also had their day, with nine gem-mint cards to choose from. Each sold in the five-figure range.
The top seller was Ron Taylor (No. 72) at $30,577, followed by Jerry Grote (No. 55), $17,873; J.C. Martin (No. 112), Dan Frisella (No. 343) and Tommie Agee (No. 364) at $15,800; Ken Boswell (No. 402), $15,276; Tug McGraw (No. 601), $14,548; and Jerry Koosman (No. 90) and Ron Swoboda (No. 585) $11,423.
Complete results can be found here.