Babe Ruth's Hat For Sale

Former New Yankees pitcher David Wells is selling a hat Yankees icon Babe Ruth (r) once wore in a game. Experts estimate the value at between $300,000 and $400,000. (AP)
Former New Yankees pitcher David Wells is selling a hat Yankees icon Babe Ruth (r) once wore in a game. Experts estimate the value at between $300,000 and $400,000. (AP)

Babe Ruth's sweat is evident on the cap that he wore for some indeterminate period between 1930 and 1933.

That's perhaps what entitles the people who are auctioning that cap to call it "a truly exceptional relic."

The Babe's cap is "game used." In fact, it was "game used" not only by the Babe, but by former Yankees pitcher David Wells, who wore the cap to the mound when he pitched on June 28, 1997. After one inning of "game use" on that date, Yankees manager Joe Torre told Wells to take the Babe's cap off and put his own back on, because otherwise he'd be out of uniform, which might mean the team would be fined, and besides, the Babe's cap was all sweaty.

[sidebar title="Babe Ruth Tours Japan" width="240" align="right"]In 1934, Babe Ruth and a group of Major League Baseball players visited Japan as ambassadors for the United States and their sport. Bill Littlefield interviewed Robert K. Fitts about his book about the tour: Banzai Babe Ruth.[/sidebar]You can be the next person to wear this item "within the extremely limited population of Ruth caps" if you buy it in an online auction that began Monday and ends May 18th. The fact that there is "no deterioration of fabric or damage to the body or hardshell brim" of the cap might favorably influence your decision, though perhaps not as much as the estimated price will discourage you. Said price is in the neighborhood of between $300,000 and $400,000 … which is a nice neighborhood, even in an era of depressed home sales.

This story would be more poignant if David Wells had to sell the cap to hold on to his house, but that is apparently not the case. He is moving, and rather than move all the baseball-related souvenirs, junk, and relics, he is selling some of them, including the cap both he and Babe Ruth wore, which, come to think of it, would not pose all that much of a challenge to any moving company that was any good.

You put it in a nice box and throw it on top of the other stuff in the truck, right? You probably tape the lid down, and you don't write "Valuable relic! Do not steal!" on the top. You're worried about how it travels, you put it on a soft chair or you ask the guy next to the driver to hold the box on his lap.

Anyway, David Wells is said to have paid $35,000 for the sweaty cap/relic, so if the auction pans out as anticipated, he will have made a tidy profit of about what Babe Ruth was paid to play ball for three years or more at a time when Babe Ruth was by far the most lavishly compensated fellow in the game.

It is said that when someone once pointed out to Ruth that his salary was higher than that of President Herbert Hoover, Ruth replied: "I had a better year than he did." It looks as if David Wells will also have a good year.

This program aired on May 2, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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