Former New York Yankees pitcher David Wells is selling a cap worn by Babe Ruth to help pay for baseball field renovations at his San Diego high school.
Wells said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Bottom Line” with Mark Crumpton that he will use money from the sale to restore the field at his alma mater, Point Loma High School.
The navy blue flannel cap, with Ruth’s name embroidered into it, is worth an estimated $400,000, according to SCP Auctions, which is handling the sale.
“I don’t want to put it in storage, I definitely don’t want to give it to the Hall of Fame or anything like that, because obviously you won’t get it back,” Wells said. “I want someone else to enjoy it.”
Wells, 48, who wore the hat during the TV interview, said he grew up idolizing Ruth, who hit 714 home runs and won seven World Series titles -- three with the Boston Red Sox and four with the Yankees. Wells said he purchased the cap for $35,000 and was offered “a couple hundred grand” before putting it up for sale.
Eight bids have been placed since the auction began on April 30, and the current price is $189,000, according to the SCP website. The auction closes on May 19.
Wells wore the hat for the first inning of a start at Yankee Stadium against the Cleveland Indians on June 28, 1997. Wells said Yankees manager Joe Torre made him change the cap after the first inning and fined him $2,500 because it did not conform to the team’s uniform code.
Torre Wasn’t Thrilled
“I warmed up with my other hat, and after I got done warming up I went up to my locker, grabbed it and stayed in the tunnel,” Wells said. “As I got on the mound I kind of peeked in and you could tell Joe wasn’t too thrilled, but I didn’t care, I’m wearing the hat.”
Ruth ranks third on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron after a 22-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees and Boston Braves. An outfielder and pitcher, Ruth led the American League in home runs 12 times and his 2,213 runs batted in are second only to Aaron.
The Ruth cap is identifiable to a period from 1930-33, according to SCP Auctions. It features the Yankees’ interlocking “NY” logo, as well as “G. Ruth” embroidered on the interior leather band. Worn in an era before batting helmets, it is believed that Ruth -- whose full name was George Herman Ruth -- wore the cap both in the field and at the plate.
Wells, who has a Babe Ruth tattoo, graduated from Point Loma in 1982. He said he hoped his donation would help maintain the public school’s passion for baseball.
“I want Point Loma High School to have a nice field,” Wells said. “I want them to have people interested, the community, and not players going to private school.”