An endorsement contract signed by MLB legend Babe Ruth with sporting goods company Hillerich & Bradsby in July 1918 is expected receive bids that approach $1 million at auction.
Lelands put the Ruth lot, which includes a page with six signatures and the envelope he addressed to the company, up with a starting bid of $100,000. The bidding has already reached over $179,500 as of Saturday morning.
The auction house estimates a final sale price between $800,000 and $1 million.
Ruth agreed to allow Hillerich & Bradsby, which continues to create the Louisville Slugger brand of baseball bats, to use his signature on a line of baseball bats in exchange for $100, per Lelands. Here are further details about the lot:
"In this document, sent to Frank Bradsby, Ruth acknowledges receipt of payment from H&B and dutifully fulfills his contractual obligation by beautifully scripting his name, 'Geo. H. Ruth,' in black fountain pen six times below the text. All the signatures have been authenticated and graded MINT 9 by PSA. The letter is accompanied by its original mailing envelope, addressed (entirely in Ruth's hand) to Mr. Bradsby/Louisville Base Ball Bats/Louisville, Ky. The stationery envelope is from the Hotel Metropole in Chicago and is postmarked July 26, 1918. This letter was originally obtained directly from Hillerich & Bradsby and is accompanied by a letter of provenance from the company. Also provided are full autograph LOAs from both PSA and JSA."
Ruth was a member of the Boston Red Sox at the time of the agreement. He led MLB with 11 home runs that season before the power surge that made him one of the most well-known athletes in history following his high-profile move to the New York Yankees in 1920.
His record of 714 homers stood until it was broken by Hank Aaron in 1974 and it still ranks as the third-most longballs in history.
Ruth retired in 1935 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame a year later as one of its inaugural members. He died in 1948 at the age of 53 following a cancer diagnosis.
The contract auction runs through Jan. 29.