(Newport Beach, CA) - Extensive experience examining 1920's era game-used baseball bats was a key factor for experts at Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) in certifying the authenticity of the bat used by Babe Ruth to hit the historic first home run in Yankee Stadium in 1923. That bat and other extraordinary sports memorabilia, also certified for authenticity by PSA, will be offered in a joint auction by Sotheby's and SportsCards Plus in New York City on December 2.
"The bat had the appropriate characteristics for a Babe Ruth professional model, game-used bat from that era, and the Ruth autograph and inscription on it were authentic in our opinion. We also thoroughly looked at the historical records related to the awarding of the bat in the 1920s as a prize in a Los Angeles youth baseball competition, and its subsequent ownership during the past 81 years," said Joe Orlando, President of Professional Sports Authenticator of Newport Beach, California, the world's largest sports memorabilia authentication company (www.PSAcard.com), a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).
"This bat is the most historically significant sports item we have ever authenticated. There's no question that the bidding will propel this bat to the top or near the top of the list of world's most valuable sports collectibles," Orlando predicted.
PSA has certified more than eight million pieces of sports memorabilia the past 13 years, including trading cards, autographs, event tickets and sports equipment.
"Professional Sports Authenticator certified the famous T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold for $1.265 million; Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball that was sold for $3 million; and the 'Black Betsy' baseball bat used by the legendary 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson that was sold for a record $557,610. If any bat has the chance to set a new standard in the field of sports memorabilia, this is it," said Orlando who also is Editor of the monthly price guide magazine, Sports Market Report.
"It was astounding to learn that the bat still existed because it was hidden away for decades, and few people knew it was still around."
Orlando explained there are two crucial areas that required expert analysis to determine the authenticity of Ruth's bat: the merits of the bat itself and that this was, indeed, the one used to make the first home run ever hit at Yankee Stadium.
"There is obviously a huge difference in value between actual game-used professional model bats and all other bats, such as those you can buy in a store. By analyzing the stamping, shipping records, factory records and the specifications of the bat, we were able to determine that this bat was, without question, a professional model Babe Ruth game bat."
"The next step was to analyze the game-use characteristics evident on the bat. Our experts determined that there was clear evidence of game use including some distinct ball marks on the right side of the barrel. This is important because Ruth was known to hit with the centerbrand -- the manufacturer's logo stamped near the center of the bat -- facing downward. In many cases, that resulted in ball marks on the right side of the barrel. The type and amount of game use were consistent with Ruth and the event at which the bat was used," said Orlando.
PSA's sports memorabilia experts also had to evaluate other pertinent documentation. This included 1920's era newspaper articles, photographs and other materials supporting its provenance that this was the bat used by Babe Ruth to hit the first home run in the inaugural game at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923, and later autographed by Ruth and awarded to teenager Victor Orsatti as the top prize in a California youth baseball competition by the Los Angeles Evening Herald newspaper.
"It's not often that a vintage piece of sports memorabilia of such historical significance is accompanied by such strong supporting evidence," he said.
"Our autograph experts certified the signature on the bat as part of a separate authentication process. The bat and the Ruth signature have to be analyzed independently of each other since they require different expertise, and the authenticity of one may not be indicative of the other," Orlando explained.
"Babe Ruth's autograph is the most desirable sports signature in the hobby, and our team has examined a multitude of Ruth signatures over the years. The entire inscription and signature on this bat, in our opinion, were penned by Ruth, and the condition of the autograph is excellent."
Ruth inscribed the bat to Orsatti: "To the Boy Home Run King of Los Angeles, 'Babe' Ruth, N.Y. May 7th, 1923."
Orsatti, a talented high school and college athlete who later became a Hollywood talent agent, died in 1984 at the age of 78. His clients included Betty Grable, Judy Garland, Edward G. Robinson, Olympic figure skater Sonja Henie and directors George Stevens and Frank Capra.
"In many cases, people want to believe that a piece of sports memorabilia is the real deal when, in the vast majority of cases, the item turns out to be a counterfeit or illegitimate in some way. There was no leap of faith necessary in the authentication process here. This wonderful, extraordinary Babe Ruth bat speaks for itself," Orlando stated.
"This bat represents so many things; the game's greatest hero and the inauguration of new Yankee Stadium, a stadium rich with history and home to the sports world's most celebrated franchise. This bat symbolizes the very beginning of that famous part of sports history."