Nothing is more uncommon and exciting in the world of sports memorabilia than discovering and acquiring a famous player’s game-worn jersey. The apparel worn by an athlete during a key last play in a World Series baseball game or the game-winning shot in the NBA finals is instantly elevated to a valuable and sought-after item. The average, mud-stained, sweaty jersey transforms into an outstanding and prized item, expressing the player’s passion, dedication, and pride.
Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger
He only played for 27 seconds and on one play, but he is perhaps the most renowned Notre Dame football player ever. Ruettiger’s underdog narrative was adapted into a film in 1993 starring Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), and in 2017, the real-life Rudy’s gear was auctioned for over a quarter-million dollars, $241,500. Ruettiger now works as a motivational speaker.
During the 1961–62 season, Chamberlain set the NBA record for most points scored in a single game with 100. His game-worn Philadelphia Warriors jersey sold for $1.2 million, but the public was only able to bid in $10 increments. David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions, revealed that he will hold 25% of the jersey with 95,620 shares, just like a typical stock, while collectors all across the world can “own” a piece of history for as little as $10.
Classic Auctions, a Montreal-based auction house, sold the second-most valuable jersey for $1.275 million. The jersey belongs to Canadian hockey player Paul Henderson, who wore it when he scored the game-winning goal against the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series. The eight-game Summit Series pitted country against country in an attempt to establish who was actually the best. In the sixth, seventh, and eighth games, Henderson scored the game-winning goals. Henderson scored the game-winning goal in the final thirty-four seconds of the series finale, making it one of the most dramatic game finishes in sports history. Henderson may not be as well-known as Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr, but his game-winning goal imbued this jersey with a transforming force, making it a rare and valuable piece of sports memorabilia.
According to Fanatics, the top three NBA jersey sales for 2020 are Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan, respectively. However, Jordan’s game-worn jersey from his 1982–83 championship season at the University of North Carolina recently sold for $1.38 million with Heritage Auctions in 2021. Jordan had already set the record with a Chicago Bulls jersey selling for $480,000, but the rarer garment was clearly in high demand.
a result, it’s no wonder that the most valuable jersey ever sold belonged to none other than Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat. Ruth’s earliest New York Yankees jersey is a gray short-sleeved button-up with the meticulous blue lettering “New York” across the breast. He wore this particular jersey for the first time in 1920, and ninety-two years later, at SCP Auctions in 2012, it sold for a world-record-breaking $4.4 million. The most valuable item of sports memorabilia ever sold is this magnificent jersey.