As Yankees Spring Games Set To Begin Tampa, Spirits of Baseball Legends Loom Large on Park Avenue

While current Yankees pitchers and catchers were reporting to camp in the warmth of Tampa, Florida, the spirits of baseball legends of Bronx Bombers lore and beyond loomed large in the chill of New York City on Park Avenue. They didn’t seem to mind.

Heritage Auctions showcased its Feb. 24-25 Heritage Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction the day after the city’s first snowstorm in two years on Monday. The Babe and the Mick were there, and Thurman, too. The formidable All-Star lineup also included the Say Hey Kid, Hammerin’ Hank,  Gil and the Great One Roberto.

The “Ruthian” artifacts among 1,500 pieces on the auction block, included three century-old Babe Ruth pieces, his signed 1916 World Series Glove used as a Red Sox hurler – bidding already near $400,000 – a 100-year old piece of lumber used by the Sultan of Swat himself – 1928-1929 bat signed by the Bambino – and a Red Sox 1915 photo postcard featuring the Babe.

On the well-preserved glove, Mike Provenzale, Sports Operations Supervisor at Heritage, said: ‘The important thing is that Babe Ruth authenticated the glove himself. He signed it and put the inscription that he used the glove himself in the 1916 World Series.

“A very forward-thinking collector named Joey Brown who was way ahead of his time as far as collecting game used material and most importantly documenting it,” added Provenzale. “It came from his personal collection. He knew how important these pieces were going to be, and that they were part of history that should be preserved.”

A 1952 signed Mickey Mantle Topps trading card in near mint condition already has bids upwards of $1.2 million and is another vintage piece in the treasure-trove of collectibles featuring the “Diamond Boys” of yesteryear.

One of the most popular pieces of memorabilia among visitors is the game used catcher’s mitt from the rookie season (1967-68) of the beloved Yankee Thurman Munson. His spirit was omnipresent as two fans talked about the revered Captain and back-stop; they turned around only to eerily see the glove in the Heritage Trophy case.

Yankees players are not the only ones featured in the Heritage All-Star auction with icons including jerseys worn by Hall of Famer sluggers Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and Gil Hodges, not to mention current megastar Shohei Ohtani, as well as a 1971 game-used bat signed by Roberto Clemente.