York County-based auction house sells Red Sox button featuring Babe Ruth for record price

Babe Ruth is featured on a pinback button honoring the 1916 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series.
  • York County-based Hake's Auctions recently sold a pinback button for more than $60,000.
  • The button featured the 1916 World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
  • One of the members of that team was a young pitcher named Babe Ruth.

Alex Winter wasn’t quite sure what to expect when a pinback button featuring the 1916 World Series champion Boston Red Sox recently went up for auction.

The button was special because it featured a 21-year-old Babe Ruth.

Winter, the president of York County-based Hake’s Auctions, was hopeful that one of the most prestigious pieces from the sprawling collection of the late Dr. Paul Muchinsky would come close to, if not break, the world record for a sports button.

Winter got his answer when the auction finally closed Sept. 24 around 10:30 p.m. — the button sold for $62,980

While the winner of the auction will remain anonymous — Winter would only reveal that the person was a sports memorabilia collector from the United States who placed one of the 16 total bids — the end result smashed the previous record for any type of button sold at auction.

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“This sold for more than any other baseball button or any button of any type for that matter,” Winter said. “The previous record was a political button that sold for $50,000, so we went beyond that.”

The Red Sox item was big for a button, measuring six inches in diameter. The fact that it featured a young Ruth, who was best known as a pitcher at the time, certainly added to the value. Ruth would go on to earn fame as the most prodigious home-run hitter of his era for the New York Yankees.

Other items: The button wasn’t the only bit of sports memorabilia that went for a pretty penny. A Mickey Mantle Fan Club button also exceeded expectations for its winning bid of $23,250.

“That button set a post-World War II record for any baseball button at auction,” Winter said. “The previous record was held by another example of this Mickey Mantle Fan Club button back in 1999. One of these buttons sold at auction for just over $12,000. That was considered one that, at the time, would never be broken because of how extreme the price was for that time. And 10 years later, another one was up for auction that only sold for $7,000. So we really didn’t know what to expect.”

For those that missed out on winning one of the Muchinsky items up for auction, the good news is that September’s auction was only the tip of the iceberg. Winter expects to have a mini-auction for some of the lesser-valued Muchinsky pieces in November.

“That will be just online-only and not in the catalog,” Winter said. “And it should have several hundred items up for auction that are more affordable to all. As great as all the high-end pieces are, there is a lot of items that are probably around a couple hundred dollars because they are not as rare.”

Another auction the caliber of the recently completed one will highlight Hake’s next premier event that Winter expects to take place in February.

“That should have 200 of the high-end Muchinsky pieces in it,” Winter said. “And it will feature an only-one-known 1915 Boston Red Sox button with Babe Ruth on it as well. That one is just as rare and maybe even as nice as the one we just sold at auction last month.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.