Baseball has been one of America's favourite pastimes for over a century, with millions of fans cheering on their favourite teams and players every year. The sport has also produced some of the most iconic and valuable memorabilia in the world, from game-worn jerseys to signed baseballs.
During baseball's heyday, some of the most legendary sports figures in history were baseball players, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe Jackson, who were known for their impressive hitting abilities. In fact, these iconic players are sure to make an appearance on any list of the sport's greats. And of course, no hitter is complete without their trusty bat - some of which have become historical artefacts worth millions of dollars.
Today we're going to run through the most expensive baseball bats of all time, but with one rule - we can only list one bat per player, otherwise Babe Ruth would take up nearly every spot on this list!
8. Joe DiMaggio Bat - $345,596
Joe DiMaggio is famous for one the greatest hitter streaks in Major League Baseball history.
In his 1941 season, DiMaggio recorded an unbelievable fifty-six games of consecutive hits, with a.262 batting average, over which time he used 3 different bats.
One of them was bought in 2018 for a whopping $345,596 and currently sits in the Hillerich & Bradsby Museum in Louisville, Kentucky - giving thousands of fans the opportunity to witness this piece of MLB history in all its glory.
Now, you may be wondering 'how do they know exactly which bats were used at which time'. Well, DiMaggio once said that he would get 12 bats, test out their swings, and when one felt right, he would choose it as his personal bat. In fact, he would dip the bat in olive and sand it down to make it perfect for hitting all those home runs. Decades later, a process called spectroscopy reveals trace amounts of olive oil in the bat, showing exactly which one DiMaggio used.
7. Adrian “Cap” Anson Bat - $349,837.50
The oldest bat on this list and the only bat from the 1800s, is one used in the final MLB season of Adrian Anson.
The former captain of the Chicago Colts, was the first player to reach 3,000 career hits in his time leading the Colts to five Major League championships, which stamped his name into the Hall of Fame in its first round in 1939. To this day, no player in the history of the Chicago franchise has beaten his record of runs and hits.
For a record setting player like Anson, it's no surprise that pieces of memorabilia from his career come with quite a hefty price tag... This bat from Cap's 1897 season sold for $349,837.50 in 2016, earning the No.7 spot on our list.
6. Jackie Robinson Bat - $478,000
Jackie Robinson is one of the all time MLB greats, with his bats consistently selling for over $150,000, but this one was special...
When Robinson debuted H&B endorsement in 1946, the bats were made with a unique design but most importantly, included his signature. As a result of this special addition, this 1947 bat sold for an impressive $478,000 in 2016.
5. Kirk Gibson Bat - $575,912
This bat comes from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series when Kirk Gibson led the charge to upset the Dodgers in historic fashion and is the newest bat on our list.
Memorabilia from the remarkable series was pooled together at an SCP Auction in 2010 and although most of the items pulled in 6 figure sums. The auction included Gibson’s batting helmet, which sold for $153,388.80, the World Series trophy, which raised $45,578.40, and the MVP Award ($110,293.20). The item that came closest to the bat, was Gibson’s series jersey, which sold for $303,277.20, but the bat itself raked in a whopping $575,912.
4. Joe Jackson Bat - $956,000
During a New York City auction in 2014, a few historic artefacts were sold for astonishing prices, but the centre of attention that night was Joe Jackson's bat from 1911 - the second oldest bat on the list. Items sold at the auction included a 1923 World Series commemorative pocket watch owned by Babe Ruth, which sold for $717,000, and the boxing gloves Muhammad Ali wore when he defeated Sonny Liston in their 1964 match, which sold for $836,500.
Jackson was just a rookie at the time, but his bat truly stole the show with a price tag of $956,000, far more than he ever made during his career with an annual salary of around $6,000.
Jackson's background had a heavy influence upon his fame - growing up as a poor child in the South, earned him the nickname "Shoeless Joe Jackson," - which you'll know if you ever saw Field of Dreams.
Sadly, Jackson threw his entire career when he purposefully tanked the 1919 World Series and was banned from baseball forever. But none of that stopped him from remaining one of the best natural hitters in the history of the league.
3. Ty Cobb Bat - $1.1 million
During March 2021, a bat previously owned by the renowned centre fielder of the Detroit Tigers, Ty Cobb, was sold for $1.1 million through a private transaction, sparking a legendary sale. Although the identities of the buyer and seller remain undisclosed, the bat's exceptional level of preservation and intricate details earned it the highest rating of GU 10 from the PSA memorabilia graders. The bat dates back to the years 1919-1922 and weighs 40 ounces, with a length of 34.5 inches.
It is interesting to note that the bat bears a significant amount of historical value on its exterior. Specifically, the back barrel of the bat displays deep cleat impressions and a black coloration, which are typical features of Cobb's bats. Furthermore, there is residue from tobacco juice on the bat, and it was taped in a wide spiral pattern across the grip. To enhance his grip, Cobb frequently coated the bat in Neatsfoot oil.
2. Lou Gehrig Bat - $1.14 million
The 1922 Lou Gehrig Bat, known as "Bat Zero" because it was used by Gehrig before he joined the Yankees, was sold for a remarkable $1.14 million at a Heritage Auction in New York in 2020. It is one of the three most expensive bats ever sold, and its weight of 40 ounces makes it one of the larger bats available.
Gehrig used this bat as a model for his branded bats after joining the New York Yankees in 1924. Heritage was able to trace the bat through contracts and player records to Gehrig's 1922 season and recognized its value.
Although the bat fetched a high price, it is not the most expensive piece of Lou Gehrig memorabilia to be sold. That distinction belongs to his 1937 jersey, one of four in existence from that time, which sold for $2.58 million at an auction in August 2019.
1. First Baseball Bat: Babe Ruth - $1.265 million
'The First Baseball Bat' is a Louisville Slugger weighing 46 ounces and was used to hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium in 1923 courtesy of Babe Ruth. Such an important history earns this bat the top spot on this list as the most expensive baseball bat ever sold, at $1.265 million at auction in 2014.
Made of ash and measuring 36 inches, the bat played a defining role in the establishment of "The House that Ruth Built" stadium and is inscribed with a reference to Babe Ruth as the "Boy Home Run King." Victor Orsatti received the bat as a gift in 1923 and held onto it until his death over 60 years later.
Notably, other Babe Ruth bats have sold for prices worthy of this list, including a 1929 bat ($1,000,800), a 1921 bat ($930,000), another 1921 bat ($717,000), and a 1927 bat ($660,000). However, as per our rule, we only included one bat per person, otherwise Ruth would completely take over the list.