The Russell-Gehrig bat auction doesn’t quite reach half-mil mark


The Louisville Slugger that Lou Gehrig used in a 1939 exhibition game against the Dodgers to hit his last home run in a Yankees uniform yielded $403,664 as the SCP Auctions’ November sale closed on Saturday, the Orange County-based company reported.

There were 16 bids made on the bat that originated from the estate of actor Bing Russell, which had been in possession his daughter, Jill Franco. She is the mother of former MLB player Matt Franco (Westlake High) and the brother of actor Kurt Russell.

A story featuring the story behind the bat was in last Sunday’s L.A. Daily News (linked here).

The record high for a baseball bat at auction was $1.265 million in 2005 for the one Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run at old Yankee Stadium on opening day in 1923.

A bat once owned by Shoeless Joe Jackson ($577,610) and the one Kirk Gibson used to hit his 1988 World Series Game 1 homer ($576,000) also broke the half-million mark.

SCP managing director Dan Imler had estimated that the Gehrig bat had “all the characteristics of a record-setting piece.”

Two other items from the Russell family were sold: A 1941 Joe DiMaggio game-used bat that was signed by the New York Yankees team ($21,780) and a 1938 Babe Dalghren game-used Louisville Slugger ($3,691).

The largest piece of sports memorabilia at the auction was $460,741 spent on a 1974 ABA New York Nets championship ring that belonged to Hall of Famer Julius Erving.

The 144-item Erving collection brought in more than $3.5 million, which included the sale of his 1983 76ers NBA championship ring ($244,240), as well as his NBA All-Star rings from 1978 ($238,853), 1983 ($218.977) and 1984 ($218,977). Erving’s 1976 Nets ABA championship ring ($195,396), his 1980-81 NBA Most Valuable Player trophy ($177,632) and his 1975-76 ABA MVP trophy ($173,102) also went in the sale.

The winning bidders request to remain anonymous, SCP Auctions reported.

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