Rare game worn Ernie Banks Cubs jersey could fetch big money at auction


With less than an estimated dozen of the like, a rare game-worn Ernie Banks jersey could fetch up to $150,000 at auction this week. The jersey is autographed by Banks, and was acquired after the passing of a collector in California, Bill Riddell.

The flannel uniform is a 1969 home jersey, with the embroidered Cubs logo on the front and Banks #14 sewn on the back. It also has the Cubbie Bear patch on the left sleeve, and the original MLB 100th anniversary patch on the right. One of the few other known Banks game-worn jerseys sold for $169,000 in 2012 despite missing the MLB anniversary patch.

Mears, an authentic jersey grading firm that rates items authenticity on a scale of 1 to 10, gave the jersey a high A9.5 rating.

The jersey includes a letter from veteran collector Mike Specht, detailing how he came about it in 1977 from a former San Diego Padres batboy Bill Griswold, who got it from the Cubs equipment manager following the 1969 season.

Banks, known as “Mr. Cub”, was the first African-American player for the Cubs. he won back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1958-59, the second celebrating its  55 year anniversary this year. Banks still holds several team records, including at-bats, games played, extra-base hits and total bases. Both MVP awards were one while playing for last place teams. Banks was with the Cubs from 1953 to 1971, spending his entire career as a Cub.

The memorabilia seller SCP said the rarity of the jerseys is likely due to trading card companies making “swatch” cards, which contained pieces of actual jersey. Of the 26 players with 500 or more home runs, Banks is considered to be the rarest of the group. It’s also a home jersey, which tend to be more valuable to collectors.

“Banks is a special player and somebody that (for whom) you don’t see a lot of game-used items,” said J.P. Cohen, President of Memory Lane, Inc.a memorabilia house in California.

Bidding opened at $25,000, and will close at 7 p.m. on December 6th. Plenty of time if you’re still looking for that last-minute gift for a Cubs fan.