Babe Ruth jersey sells for record $4.4 million

Sun May 20, 2012 9:51pm EDT

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(Reuters) - The earliest known New York Yankees jersey worn by slugger Babe Ruth was sold for $4.4 million on Sunday, a record for a piece of sports memorabilia.

The circa 1920 jersey was sold to an undisclosed buyer for $4,415,658, according to the auction house that handled the sale, SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California.

It's the highest price ever fetched for a piece of sports memorabilia, according to AuctionReport.com, which tracks auction houses. It said the previous record was $4.3 million for Dr. James Naismith's Rules of Basketball in 2010.

The Babe Ruth jersey was sold by a private collector. This was the first time the item has ever been for sale publicly, according to SCP Auctions.

The wool jersey marks one of the more pivotal moments in baseball history. In 1920, the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees - a move that made the player despondent but launched him into a record-setting season.

It also touched off what's known as the "Curse of the Bambino," in which the Red Sox went on to spend more than 80 years without a title - while the Yankees became one of Major League Baseball's most successful franchises.

The auction house, which specializes in sports memorabilia, broke two more auction records on Sunday, according to news reports.

The Super Bowl XXV ring belonging to former New York Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor sold for $230,401, and a Yankees cap from the 1930s - also worn by Ruth and owned by former Yankees pitcher David Wells - sold for $537,278, according to the site.

Both were new records for the highest price paid for a sports ring and a sports cap, according to the Los Angeles Times.

(Reporting By Karen Brooks; Editing by Eric Beech)

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