The final jersey ever issued to Babe Ruth by the New York Yankees will command the highest bids at Heritage Auctions' May 2-4 Vintage Sports Collectibles Signature Auction in Dallas.
The 1935 jersey is valued at $300,000+, as a superb display piece that marks the end of Ruth's historic career with the Yankees, shortly before his limp into retirement with the Boston Braves. It is to be sold in a lot along with his last contract with the Yankees - a token gesture made out to the value of one dollar, which the Sultan of Swat has declined to grace with his signature.
The heavy grey flannel road jersey shows the unhealthy state that Ruth was in when he left the club, with the shirt measuring 27 inches across the chest. It also features the so-called "fat strap", a cloth band sewn to the rear tail that was designed to stop his belly from untucking the jersey during play.
According to a letter of provenance, the jersey was given by Ruth to Al Helfer, a young radio broadcaster, shortly after a charity game in 1939. Helfer's widow explains:
"Oct. 1, 1990, during a charity game this baseball uniform (NY #3) was given as a gift to my husband Al Helfer by Babe Ruth because of their similar size and Babe told Al to keep it as a memento, Mrs. Al Helfer (Margaret Helfer)."
In May 2012, the earliest known Yankees jersey worn by the Babe sold for $4.4m to set the world record for any item of sports memorabilia. In contrast, his earliest pair of Yankees pinstripes sold for just $183,500 in December 2012, displaying the power of items with strong eye-appeal.