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Babe Ruth bat sells for $214,000 but home run ball flops in Baltimore auction

By Barbara Liston

(Reuters) - A nearly century-old Babe Ruth bat sold for $214,000 at a memorabilia auction Saturday night, but the first baseball whacked over the Yankee Stadium fence by the legendary slugger failed to land a new home.

The auction, held at the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore a day after the 100-year anniversary of Ruth's first major league game, featured 200 items related to the home-run king.

Ruth's bat was discovered in a stash of pre-World War I Red Sox bats found in a 150-year-old home outside Boston, according to Goldin Auctions of New Jersey, which handled the sale.

Ruth made his Major League debut on July 11, 1914, pitching for the Boston Red Sox at their home field, Fenway Park. He later joined the New York Yankees, where he achieved his greatest fame as a hitter, including crushing Yankee stadium's first official home run when it opened in 1923.

The initial item up for bid during Saturday's auction was the first ball ever hit out of the park by Ruth, who was trying out the Yankee Stadium field for a newspaper editor.

It had been expected to go for $1 million or more, but was withdrawn from the sale after it failed to attract even the minimum bid of $100,000, said Goldin spokesman Doug Drotman.

Early online bidding for the ball reached $95,000, but after no further bids came in, it was withdrawn, Drotman said.

    Ruth hit the ball when New York Daily News sports editor Marshall Hunt brought him to the nearly finished Yankee Stadium on Valentine’s Day in 1923 to get an exclusive reaction from Ruth to the stadium.

The ball went into the stands on the fourth pitch, and Ruth signed it for the stadium worker who retrieved it.

The bat sold Saturday was used from 1916 to 1918, a period in which the left-handed pitcher helped the Red Sox win its last World Series for 86 years, a dry spell that ended in 2004.

Ruth's personal copy of his 1918 Red Sox contract sold for $1.02 million, Drotman said.

(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Clarence Fernandez)

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