Typical fans show their devotion by wearing their favorite team's hat or a replica of their favorite player's jersey, but hard-core collectors aren't content until they've purchased original, decades-old uniforms and caps worn by the likes of Babe Ruth. Some take it even further, buying pieces of basketball courts and gloves worn by famous boxers during their most notable bouts. These trophies are not just status symbols (though they definitely are status symbols); they're proof of how much sports mean to men.
No one knows that better than David Kohler and Dan Imler, president and vice president of SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California. Since Kohler founded it in 1979, SCP has become the foremost auction house for expensive sports memorabilia. We spoke to these accomplished auctioneers about the most valuable pieces they've ever sold and the blockbusters they never got their hands on.
Babe Ruth's Jersey
Kohler describes Babe Ruth as "the king of sports memorabilia." The record-breaking sale of this game-worn 1920 Yankees road jersey cemented that status. The jersey is the earliest-known Ruth uniform in existence, a fact that – given its excellent condition and the scarcity of game-worn Ruth apparel – made it extremely attractive to the most competitive baseball collectors. The shirt went for $4.4 million in 2012, becoming the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.
What could possibly eclipse its price in the future? "Some people have often wondered if a jersey exists from his years playing with the Red Sox," Imler says. "Certainly something that would have potential would be his rookie jersey from 1915."