Collecting sports memorabilia has become a popular past time for many fans of all different sports all over the world. Sports fans have become so passionate about following their teams and players over the past few years that the financial gain in memorabilia has been staggering.
Some of the oldest pieces of memorabilia have been valued in the millions in recent years, which has only made the hobby all the more popular. There have been so many pieces of memorabilia from baseball, hockey and even basketball over the past few years that have been seen as grails to collectors that it could easily be argued that memorabilia collecting is now a cult hobby.
Sports fans have always collected merchandise and relics from their teams to prove that they are passionate about that team, but this isn't a hobby that is new, fans have been doing this for hundreds of years. Many fans have even been able to pass down these items through their families and kept them in stunning condition despite some of them being more than a hundred years old.
The following list looks at just 20 individual pieces of sports memorabilia from around the world that have been valued as some of the most expensive pieces of sports history. These are the pieces that some of the most hardcore collectors want to be able to pick up one day if they continue to build their own personal collection. These pieces of sports history date back to some of the earliest years in the beginning of many American and British sports and interestingly the value continues to grow for some of the pieces that are considered to be in perfect condition.
20 Muhammed Ali "Fight of the Century" Gloves
The Fight of the Century between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier took place at Madison Square Garden back in 1971 and saw Ali defeated on a points decision. Both men were undefeated heading into the bought and Ali's gloves from this iconic match returned to auction back in 2016.
It was just months after the boxing legend sadly passed away that Jeff Rosenberg opted to sell the piece of boxing history that he had only purchased himself just two years prior. The gloves sold for an impressive $606,375 in August 2016 which is almost $400,000 more than Rosenberg paid for them previously.
19 The FA Cup
The oldest football competition in England is the FA Cup, it was a competition that was established back in 1871 with teams from all levels of the football league eligible to compete for the historic trophy.
While the original cup was stolen, the second trophy that was brought in to replace this one which lasted from 1896 until 1910 when a new design was implemented.
This FA Cup went to auction back in 2005 and was sold for an impressive $750,000, the FA made only five of these cups and since the first one went missing, there are only four left in the world.
18 Babe Ruth's 1933 Jersey
Babe Ruth is widely considered to be the best baseball player in the history of the sport and is someone that many fans enjoy collecting memorabilia of. Ruth's 1933 jersey joins this list because it's from a year that was considered to be his most iconic.
Ruth scored 34 home runs that season and his jersey has been saved over the past seventy years before it was able to sell at auction for an impressive $657, 250, but this isn't Ruth's most expensive jersey as you will see from the following list which is stacked full of Babe Ruth memorabilia.
17 Babe Ruth's 1933 Signed Home Run Ball
On July 6th, 1933, Babe Ruth was once again the star of the show as he hit two home runs at Comiskey Park. At this point in his career, Ruth already had celebrity status and he was nearing the end of his spell on the pitch, which could be why the ball was later collected and became an iconic piece of baseball history.
The ball later went to auction and was bought for an impressive $850,000, but shockingly it still isn't considered to be one of the most expensive pieces of Ruth memorabilia on offer as the rest of this list will continue to show.
16 Bill Tilden's 1920 Wimbledon Trophy
Tennis isn't a sport that has created a lot of expensive merchandise over the years, which could be why Bill Tilden's 1920 Wimbledon Trophy is not only one of the most expensive pieces of memorabilia in the world, but it also holds the record as the most expensive piece of tennis memorabilia as well.
Tilden won 10 Grand Slams throughout his career, but his trophy from Wimbledon 1920 was always the most iconic and sold at Christie's Auction House back in 1992.
It sold for $71,500 but today, almost two decades later, it is believed to be worth around $900,0000.
15 Babe Ruth's 1934 World Tour Uniform
Babe Ruth memorabilia is some of the most expensive in the world, so readers shouldn't be surprised to see his name on this list a number of times. This entry covers the full uniform that he wore as part of the MLB world tour back in 1934.
This is seen as an iconic collector's item because this was the last year that Ruth played for the New York Yankees which could explain why this uniform was bought at auction back in 2005 for $771,500 but it's now estimated to be worth around $950,000, which makes it the most expensive baseball uniform in the world.
14 Hank Aaron's 755th Home Run Ball
Baseball memorabilia has become a huge market over the past century but Hank Aaron's name is only a small part of it. Aaron stepped into the game years after Babe Ruth stepped aside, but he wrote his name in the history books when he hit his 755th home run more than 40 years ago in a game where Milwaukee hosted California.
The ball from this home run was recovered and after getting Aaron to sign it, the groundskeeper auctioned it off. The ball was sold for an impressive $650,000 back in 1999 which means that the ball would be worth more than $1 million today.
13 Muhammed Ali's Boxing Gloves
Muhammed Ali will always be seen as one of the greatest boxers of all time and one of the matches that created this reputation for the former WBC Heavyweight Champion was his 1965 Championship bout with Floyd Patterson.
This match that was just Ali's second title fight and one that showed the disdain both men had with the other throughout the build up.
Ali won the match with Patterson, but the boxing gloves from one of his most iconic fights became the most expensive piece of boxing history back in 2012 when Lorenzo Fertitta paid $1,100,000 at an auction in Las Vegas.
12 Babe Ruth's 1932 "Shot In The Dark" Jersey
There is a reason that Babe Ruth is regarded so highly in baseball history, one of the best-known stories about the legend revolves around the game between the New York Yankees and The Chicago Cubs back in 1932. Ruth stepped up and appeared to have called his shot before he took it and impressively was spot on.
This was his 15th home run that season and a much-needed run for the Yankees since the score was tied at 4-4, which could be why the shirt was sold for $940,000 at auction back in 2005, which is estimated to be around $1.17 million today.
11 Paul Henderson's 1972 Jersey
Back in 1972, the Soviet Union rose to the challenge of Canada's very best in an eight-game series that later became known as The Summit Series. It was as part of this series that Paul Henderson was able to score three game-winning goals for Canada, including the series winner in Game 8, a feat that has since seen his name cemented in hockey folk law.
His game-worn jersey from this incredible series went under the hammer back in 2010 in Montreal, Canada and shockingly sold for an incredible $1.2 million which makes this the most expensive solo piece of hockey merchandise in the history of the sport.
10 1952 Mickey Mantle Baseball Card
1952 was Mickey Mantle's first full season with the New York Yankees and it was quite a season for the star who registered 23 home runs and 94 runs overall.
While this is not seen as the most expensive baseball card in history, it was a card that was kept in fantastic condition and was graded at 8.5 out of 10 by a Professional Sports Authenticator when it came to auction.
In November 2016, the card was finally sold for $1.3 million and is only the second card in history to be able to fetch more than $1 million at auction.
9 Sheffield FC's Rules, Regulations, And Laws
Football has become the most popular sport in the United Kingdom and even though the Football League was officially founded back in 1888, it appears that there are a number of pieces of merchandise that are older than this date.
Sheffield's Rules and Regulations booklet is thought to be the oldest and the first official rules and laws of football that were ever drafted, so it's no surprise that the document raised more than $1.2 million at auction back in 2011. Interestingly, the sale was made in New York City, rather than the UK where many fans would have expected.
8 Babe Ruth's 1919 Contract
When Babe Ruth signed with the New York Yankees back in 1919, the five-page contract stated that Boston Red Sox had decided to sell the legend to the Yankees and it is now one of the most iconic pieces of memorabilia.
This was the beginning of a fantastic career in New York for Ruth, who only continued to achieve greatness, while it was heartbreaking news for Boston Red Sox who were already aware of Ruth's legendary status.
Unfortunately, owner Harry Frazee was short on money and sold Ruth for $125,000.
The contract was sold at auction back in 2005 for $996,000 or $1.24 million in today's climate.
7 Babe Ruth's First Home Run Bat At Yankee Stadium
Babe Ruth's first home run at Yankee's Stadium signaled the beginning of an iconic career for one of the best baseball players in the history of the sport, but it also helped the New York Yankees win the World Series back in 1923.
This was the same season that Ruth's former team, the Boston Red Sox finished last.
This iconic bat hit the auction stand back in 2004 along with a number of other baseball items in a sale called "The Babes come home" and was sold to a company in Chicago for $1.265 million, which is now estimated to be worth around $1.6 million.
6 Mark McGwire's 70th Home Run Ball
Mark McGwire may have been involved in a number of scandals since his career came to an end, but back in 1998 he scored a record 70 home runs in a season and the ball from his last run was then saved and actioned off the following year.
Incredibly, this is one of the most recent pieces of merchandise and it's been able to collect more than $3 million. McWire has the unique distinction of being the fastest player to hit 500 home runs and the best at-bats per home run ratio in baseball history which makes him a legend of the sport.
5 Honus Wagner Baseball Card
Honus Wagner became the most valuable baseball card in the world back in 2016 when his 1909 card sold at auction for $3.12 million. Wagner was reported to have disagreed with the promotion of cigarettes on baseball cards at that time, so there weren't many of his card in circulation which made it a rare card to begin with, which could be why more than 100 years later, this is considered to be the holy grail of cards.
Whilst there are many collectors who boast hundreds of baseball cards, there are only a handful who own the most expensive card in the world.
4 Rules of Baseball
The rules of Baseball were reportedly written out back in 1856 and were produced by Daniel Lucius Adams (who was nicknamed "Doc") and it outlines the main rules of the sport including the weight that the ball needs to be and the positions where the bases need to be.
When the document was sold, it became one of the most expensive documents in the world and was able to bypass Babe Ruth's 1919 Yankees contract.
This document went to auction back in April 2016 and was titled "The Laws of Baseball" interestingly it was bought by an anonymous bidder for $3.26 million.
3 The Rules of Basketball
In 1891, the rules of basketball were written out by James Naismith and somehow the original document has survived for more than a century and remained in decent condition. The document went into auction in New York City back in 2010 and sold for an incredible $4.3 million.
Lawrence High and Kansas University graduate David Booth both felt so strongly that the two-page document that states the 13 original rules of the now globally recognizable sport should stay on the campus that they made the decision to pay almost $5 million to ensure the historic piece of paper didn't leave their location.
2 Babe Ruth's 1920s Jersey
The oldest known jersey that was worn by New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth sold back in 2012 for a staggering $4.4 million.
Ruth's merchandise has always been seen as a high seller at auction, but this jersey is reported to be the most expensive solo piece of sports memorabilia that doesn't have an engine in history.
Ruth's career spanned more than 22 seasons in the MLB from 1914 to 1935 and this jersey is from the 1920 season the year he first signed for the Yankees and set a record for home runs scored in one month with 13 and 54 home runs in his first season.
1 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
The most expensive piece of sports history in the world is shockingly the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, a car that was driven by Ernesto Prinoth, Henri Oreiller, Jo Schlesser, Paolo Colombo, and Fabrizio Violati during the GT racing series in the 1960s.
The car's original retail price was $18,000 when it was first released in the 1960s but it later broke the world record as the most expensive car ever sold when it was bought for $38 million at auction back in 2015. Interestingly, this isn't just Ferrari's most expensive model, but it is also now seen as the most expensive car in the world.