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Joe Jackson’s rookie bat outsells Babe Ruth’s pocket watch at auction

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(Getty, Heritage Auctions)

A pocket watch belonging to Babe Ruth brought less than expected, and it wasn't even the most popular bit of Major League Baseball memorabilia purchased over the weekend via Heritage Auctions.

A bat used during the rookie season of Shoeless Joe Jackson fetched $958,000 through Heritage. Ruth's pocket watch — a championship ring of sorts, given to him for winning the 1923 World Series with the Yankees, went for $717,000. They were hoping for at least $750,000.

An odder bit of history — a shard of the broken bat that Roger Clemens whipped at Mike Piazza in the 2000 Subway Series — sold for $47,500.

Jackson was a contemporary of Ty Cobb — and was, more or less — just as good of a hitter. But his career ended in disgrace in 1920 after he and seven other members of the Chicago White Sox were found by baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to have conspired to fix the 1919 World Series. What Jackson knew, when he knew it and what he did about it have been topics hotly debated, but he and the other "Black Sox" have been banned from the majors ever since.

As for his bat, it's not to be confused with "Black Betsy," a bat Jackson used later in his career that has come up for auction before. This bat is from 1911, his first full season with the Cleveland Naps:

A signature model Hillerich & Bradsby that leading expert John Taube confirms to be "the only Joe Jackson bat in existence that is factory documented as being game used by Jackson during his Major League career."

As with Jackson's career, disagreements have arisen over the authenticity of the "Black Betsy" bat auctioned years ago. But Taube's statement would seem to indicate that Jackson's rookie bat is the real deal.

In non-baseball items, boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali (when he was still called Cassius Clay) when he upset Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title in 1964 went for $836,500.

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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