Sports fans and collectors everywhere can agree that owning sports memorabilia brings you closer to the game, leading to the unprecedented demand for game-worn memorabilia.
With game-worn jerseys, bats, shoes, and sports cards embedded with game-worn relics fetching unprecedented figures, the entry-level is becoming more challenging for collectors, with prices continuously increasing.
For the sake of this piece, we’ll discuss the top 10 most valuable game-worn jerseys, all of which fetched at least seven figures.
10. 1964 World Series Game 6 & 7 Mickey Mantle Game-Worn Jersey
Sold for $1,320,000 on August 18, 2018, by Heritage Auctions.
Although Mickey Mantle’s iconic game-worn grey flannel road jersey from the 1964 World Series is the least valuable on the list, his jersey still went on to convey seven figures.
The Mick’s iconic New York Yankees uniform is photo-matched to Game Six and Seven of the 1964 World Series, where the St. Louis Cardinals prevailed four games to three. Despite losing heartbreakingly to the Cardinals, Mantle’s jersey is significant because it represents his 17th and 18th World Series home runs, three more than Babe Ruth’s 15 for the most accumulated home runs in World Series history.
Across 65 World Series appearances, the second-most for a player all time after Yogi Berra’s 75, Mickey Mantle recorded 18 home runs, including a grand slam.
They drove in 40 runs while leading the Yankees to the promised land seven times.
Mickey Mantle’s jersey is guaranteed authentic from MEARS Authentications LLC, one of the leading game-worn memorabilia authenticators in the industry, who granted a Letter of Authentication with an A9 grade.
Mantle’s revered 1964 World Series jersey also received a Letter of Authenticity from Heritage Auctions, who brokered the sale.
Mickey Mantle’s memorabilia habitually fetches historic sales at auction, and his 1964 World Series uniform is yet another example.
In the same manner, it shouldn’t be surprising that we’ll be examining another Mickey Mantle game-worn jersey at number five, which conveyed nearly double his 1964 World Series uniform.
9. 1982-83 Michael Jordan North Carolina Tar Heels Game-Worn Jersey
Sold for $1,380,000 on May 7, 2021, by Heritage Auctions.
Frequently considered the greatest basketball player of all time, it’s fitting that a Michael Jordan jersey would appear on the top 10 list of the most valuable game-worn jerseys. Like Mickey Mantle, there are two Jordan jerseys to make an appearance.
This particular Michael Jordan jersey dates back to his 1982-83 sophomore campaign at the University of North Carolina, photo-matched to a jersey the 1984 Naismith College Player of the Year dons on the 1984 cover of The Sporting News.
In three prolific seasons as a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels, Michael Jordan averaged 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.7 steals.
Jordan led arguably the most renowned college basketball program in history to victory in the Championship Game of the 1982 NCAA Tournament over the Georgetown Hoyas behind a game-winning jump shot with 15 seconds left.
Michael Jordan finished his remarkable collegiate career with a Naismith Award, Wooden Award, Rupp Trophy, and AP Player of the Year en route to becoming the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, where he went on to assemble one of the most illustrious careers in league history.
Michael Jordan’s iconic game-worn jersey from his 1992-93 NCAA season earned a Letter of Authentication from Resolution Photomatching, the most trusted photo-matching source in the hobby, and Heritage Auctions, going down as one of the most renowned collectibles in the hobby.
Stay tuned for Michael Jordan’s most valuable game-worn uniform of all time.
8. 1988 Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup Clinching Victory Wayne Gretzky Game-Worn Jersey
Sold for $1,452,000 on June 6, 2022, by Grey Flannel Auctions.
Let’s shift our attention to the rink for the 8th most valuable game-worn jersey, depicting Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky’s final jersey as a member of the Edmonton Oilers, a place the captain called home for nine NHL seasons while capturing all four of his Stanley Cup Finals.
In nine NHL seasons with the Oilers, Gretzky compiled 583 goals, and 1,086 assists, totaling 1,669 points, all of which are franchise records.
Gretzky’s number 99 jersey is photo matched to his final career game in an Edmonton Oilers uniform by the MeiGray Group and Photo-Match.com, showcasing champagne stains from the Oilers’ victory celebration after they hoisted the 1988 Stanley Cup trophy in five games over the Boston Bruins.
Wayne Gretzky is a 15-time NHL All-Star, four-time Stanley Cup Champion, 10-time Art Ross Trophy recipient, and nine-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner.
Gretzky also owns or is tied for 61 NHL records, including most goals (801), assists (1,962), goals scored in a single season (92), and assists totaled in a single season (163).
There is often much discussion about the greatest player of each respective sport.
However, the 20-year dominance of Wayne Gretzky is second-to-none, illustrated by his iconic number 99 jersey retired league-wide.
As such, Wayne Gretzky’s final Edmonton Oilers jersey is both a piece of NHL and sports history.
7. 1980 Earvin “Magic” Johnson NBA Finals Game 6 Game-Clinching Game-Worn Jersey
Sold for $1,500,000 on August 21, 2021, by Heritage Auctions.
In Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s 1979-80 rookie campaign, he averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 2.4 steal to finish second in the 1980 Rookie of the Year voting behind Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.
In the 1980 NBA Playoffs, Magic averaged nearly a triple-double per contest, recording 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 9.4 assists.
Entering Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals with the Lakers up 3-2 over the Philadelphia 76ers, the 6’9″ rookie went on a tear, compiling 42 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists en route to capturing the 1980 NBA title. In doing so, Magic became both the youngest player and only rookie to capture the NBA Finals MVP Award.
Bearing a Letter of Authentication by the MeiGray Group, Resolution Photomatching, Beckett Authentication Services, PSA/DNA, and Heritage Auctions, this autographed jersey that Magic wore during Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals is one of the most coveted authentic game-worn jerseys in sports history.
Once selected by the Los Angeles Lakers as the first overall pick out of Michigan State University, Magic Johnson is one of the most decorated Los Angeles Lakers in franchise history. With five NBA titles under his belt, the Magic Man is tied for the most NBA Championships in team history, along with Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Averaging 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game across 13 NBA seasons, Magic is one of the most revered NBA players of all time and is a member of both the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Team, leading to the remarkable worth of his signed game-worn jersey from his first of five NBA titles.
6. 1947 Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers Game-Worn Jersey Rookie Season
Sold for $2,050,000 on November 19, 2017, by Heritage Auctions.
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the sport’s color barrier, which had been in place for more than 50 years.
Robinson’s transition from the Negro Leagues to the Majors was controversial, to say the least, as teams threatened to go on strike if number 42 was on the field.
Despite the public’s uproar surrounding Jackie, he recorded 12 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 29 stolen bases in his rookie season, capturing the first-ever Major League Rookie of the Year honors and finishing fifth in the National League MVP voting.
Jackie Robinson’s rookie jersey has been in possession by the Robinson Family Archives since his 1947 rookie campaign. Jackie’s uniform carries a Letter of Authentication from MEARS and Heritage Auctions, though more importantly, it harbors a letter of provenance from Jackie’s 100-year-old widow Rachel Robinson, who continues Jackie’s legacy.
On April 15, 1997, 50 years to the day of Jackie’s Major League Baseball debut, his iconic number 42 jersey was retired across baseball. Each year, baseball commemorates the lasting legacy of Jackie on April 15, known as Jackie Robinson Day.
As a result of Jackie’s success on the field and even more considerable triumphs off the field, his game-worn uniform from his 1947 rookie season is a historical relic of the game’s history.
5. 1968 Mickey Mantle New York Yankees Final Game Game-Worn Jersey
Sold for $2,190,000 on February 26, 2022, by Heritage Auctions.
Mickey Mantle took the field for the New York Yankees 2,401 times over an 18-year MLB career, capturing seven World Series titles, three American League MVP Awards, and 20 All-Star Game appearances (four of which included two Midsummer Classics).
On September 28, 1968, Mickey Mantle donned this jersey during the final game of his career.
He also wore it during the 1968 All-Star Game and for his 534th and 535th career home runs. Since then, this specific jersey has been auctioned three times at Heritage Auctions.
In February 2017, Mantle’s jersey fetched $486,000, then $850,000 in August 2020, followed by this seven-figure sum in February 2022. Mantle’s jersey from his final career game bears a Letter of Authenticity from MEARS, Beckett, and Heritage Auctions.
It is one of the most iconic pieces of memorabilia from Mickey Mantle’s historic Hall of Fame career.
4. 1937 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Game-Worn Jersey
Sold for $2,580,000 on August 17, 2019, by Heritage Auctions.
Henry Louis Gehrig, referred to as Lou Gehrig or the “Iron Horse,” is one of the most celebrated baseball players in history.
From June 1, 1925, to April 30, 1939, when Gehrig benched himself after being infamously diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Gehrig was a staple in the New York Yankees lineup, playing in 2,130 consecutive games, a record that stood for over 50 years.
Lou Gehrig played his final career game on April 30, 1939, ultimately retiring several weeks later.
Gehrig is arguably one of the greatest players ever to don the pinstripes, if not all time, tallying two American League MVP Awards, seven World Series titles, and one of 27 players to capture the Triple Crown.
Lou Gehrig ranks among the New York Yankees leaders in various categories, including a career .340 batting average (3rd), 163 triples (1st), and 1,995 RBIs (1st).
Lou Gehrig’s grey flannel game-worn jersey is traced to his 1937 season by MEARS, Resolution Photomatching, and Heritage Auctions and is one of his most delicate memorabilia items.
3. Babe Ruth Game-Worn Jersey c. 1928-1930
Sold for $5,640,000 on June 15, 2019, by Hunt Auctions.
Year after year, George Herman “Babe” Ruth memorabilia continues to be amongst the most sought-after by collectors, and his game-worn jersey, traced to his 1928-30 seasons with the New York Yankees, continues the trend.
Babe Ruth’s game-worn jersey sold at Hunt Auctions in June 2019 set the record for the most valuable piece of sports memorabilia ever to be sold.
Across 22 MLB seasons, Babe Ruth is in the conversation for the greatest baseball player of all time, as he compiled 714 home runs, 2,214 RBIs, and a career .342 batting average. That conversation holds even more water, considering Babe Ruth posted the record in slugging percentage (.690) and OPS (1.164).
Babe Ruth’s grey flannel game-worn road jersey is guaranteed authentic by the Sportscard Guaranty Corporation and is cemented as one of the finest relics of the Great Bambino.
2. Diego Maradona’s “The Hand of God” & “Goal of the Century” World Cup Game-Worn Shirt
Sold for $7,142,500 GPB ($9.28 million) on May 4, 2022, by Sotheby’s.
Despite measuring just 5’5″, the late Diego Armando Maradona is widely considered one of the greatest footballers of all time due to his technical abilities.
He excelled in every aspect of the beautiful game.
During the Quarterfinals match between Argentina and England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Diego Maradona’s antics became one of the most well-documented halves in professional football.
In the 51st minute of the second half, Diego Maradona illegally used the outside of his left hand to steer the ball into the back of the net.
Knowing that he illegally scored due to using his hand, Maradona began celebrating his goal to deceive the referees, ultimately putting Argentina up 1-0.
Maradona famously stated he scored the iconic goal with “a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of god.”
Four minutes later, Maradona flashed his brilliance, single-handedly dribbling the ball across the pitch to score the “Goal of the Century,” considered one of the most monumental goals in football history.
Both of Maradona’s iconic goals were scored wearing his iconic Argentinian jersey, which broke the record for the most valuable game-worn jersey ever recorded.
1. 1998 NBA Finals Game 1 Michael Jordan’s “Last Dance” Game-Worn Jersey
Sold for $10,091,000 on September 15, 2022, by Sotheby’s.
The most valuable game-worn jersey ever recorded is Michael Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey, worn by MJ in Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals versus John Stockton and Karl Malone’s Utah Jazz.
The 1998 NBA Finals is significant because it marked his 6th and final NBA title and his final season in a Chicago Bulls uniform.
Although the Chicago Bulls succumbed to the Jazz in Game 1 of the series, they bounced back to win four of the next five games, becoming the 1998 NBA Champions.
In addition to winning his sixth NBA title, Jordan also captured his 6th NBA Finals MVP Award while later claiming the 1998 NBA MVP Award.
The Chicago Bull’s 1997-98 season is commonly referred to as “The Last Dance,” with players aware, for many reasons, that it would mark the end of their dynasty. Jordan’s “Last Dance” game-worn jersey is certified authentic by the MeiGray Group, which was sent in for authentication in December 2020.
While Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player in history, he’s also viewed as the fiercest competitor, winning his primary focus.
As of September 15, 2022, Jordan’s “Last Dance” game-worn jersey is the most expensive of all time and the only one to fetch an unprecedented eight figures.
Bringing You Closer to the Game
The aforementioned top 10 game-worn jerseys highlight some of the greatest athletes of all time, with storied explanations of what makes each of them so valuable.
While these are currently the most coveted in the sports memorabilia landscape, there’s no end in sight for the future value of these 10 jerseys or the uniforms that have yet to surface.