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David Brown

Kirk Gibson's '88 World Series bat sells for $575,912 at auction

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Kirk Gibson's 1988 World Series stuff is worth a lot of money, particularly the bat he used to win Game 1 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The bat that struck a legendary home run against Dennis Eckersley sold for $575,912.40 when bidding ended Sunday morning at SCP Auctions' October/November event. It was the centerpiece of six signed '88 World Series items — five of which went to the same collectors for a staggering total of $1.19 million.

Gibson's is now the second-most expensive bat in history, behind the signed bat Babe Ruth used to hit the first homer in Yankee Stadium history. It sold for $1.265 million in 2004.

Gibson's game-worn jersey and hit batting helmet, along with his World Series trophy and Series MVP award were also part of the lot, which Gibson put up himself in part to raise money for his foundation.

Dodgers blog Vin Scully is My Homeboy kept tabs on the auction and reports that the winning bids came from a father/son collector team from Southern California:

Chad and Doug Dreier of the Dreier Group paid $1.19 million for the five items, which included Gibson's home run bat from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series ($575,912.40) and his game-worn jersey ($303,277.20), his batting helmet ($153,388.80), NL Most Valuable Player Award ($110,293.20) and World Series trophy ($45,578.40).

"We are thrilled to keep this amazing collection of baseball history in Southern California," Chad Dreier said.

A different collector bought the sixth item — Gibson's road uniform from the Series, which he wore in the clinching Game 5.

One item not up for bid: The winning baseball from Game 1. Where is it?

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The helmet was snug atop Gibson's head. But the ball? Gibson doesn't have it; he probably would have sold it if he did. The Dodgers also don't know where it is. Does anyone know for certain?

When news broke in October that Gibson was to sell his memorabilia, CNBC's Darren Rovell asked that very question. Rovell got a lot of interesting responses, including one that really rings true.

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(Note the pine tar/dirt around the collar of the jersey — it's very Kirk Gibson.)

Now that the bat has sold for more than half-a-million bucks, it will be interesting to see if the folks who claim to have the ball will ransack the garage in which it supposedly rests in order to find it. If they can prove it's the Gibson ball — or simply convince the right person — it would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. If not a million, or more.

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Gibson's is probably the most famous home run recorded on video. It's the coolest baseball moment in my lifetime, bar none; a hobbling Gibson going deep against a Hall of Fame closer in his prime in Gibson's only at-bat in the World Series.

On the right, there's a shot of Gibson trying to take batting practice the day after his home run in Game 1. Note the bulging veins in his arm, his keen "Magnum, P.I." mustache and a T-shirt that says: "Michigan Big Game Hunters Association."

I can understand Gibson's motivation for selling his stuff. He lived through it. He's got his memories — and people no doubt remind him frequently of the '88 Series and '84 with the Detroit Tigers.

He also says he's not a collector and it took a lot of energy to ensure the stuff was looked after properly. And besides, he's a major league manager now (of the Arizona Diamondbacks). He's got other memories to make.

"As I looked at it and I started thinking about where I am in my life, I don't want to have to worry about making sure these items are secure somewhere," [Gibson said in a release from SCP Auctions].

"I just felt like maybe it's time to let the people who do like to collect things and display them buy them and then take some of the proceeds and fund my foundation. I want to make sure those scholarship funds go on forever in my parents' names."

The proceeds from the World Series trophy and MVP award will be donated to the Kirk Gibson Foundation to continue his support of Michigan State athletic programs and to help fund his partial scholarship programs at Clarkston (Mich.) High School and Waterford (Mich.) High School, in honor of his parents, who were educators at those schools.

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