By Michelle Graff
This pocket watch, given to Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat,” after the New York Yankees won the 1923 World Series, was sold at auction on Saturday for $717,000.
New York--The pocket watch given to Babe Ruth after the New York Yankees won the World Series in 1923 went for $717,000 at an auction held Saturday in New York City.

Sold as part of Heritage Auction’s Sports Platinum Night Auction, the watch was purchased by a bidder who has chosen to remain anonymous, according to the auction house.

The watch was awarded to Ruth and all of his New York Yankees teammates after their World Series victory against the New York Giants in 1923, in which Ruth batted .368 and hit three home runs. The 14-karat gold “Gruen VeriThin” watch is pentagonal in shape and is engraved with a scene of a pitcher, hitter, catcher and a ball in flight.

Framing the scene are the words “Yankees, World’s Champions 1923.” Ruth himself also added a “Babe Ruth” engraving on the front while it was still in his possession.

The rear case pops open to reveal another engraving, including the original text that says, “Presented by Baseball Commissioner to George H. Ruth,” the birth name of the baseball legend who came to be known as the “Sultan of Swat.”

Just above that is another addition of Ruth’s, “To My Pal Charles Schwefel,” added before Ruth gifted the watch to his close friend as something to remember him by when Ruth’s terminal cancer progressed later in life.

It was only in Schwefel’s possession for a few years before his wife gave it to their nephew, Lewis Fern, who had caddied for Ruth several times and kept the pocket watch for several decades.

It was privately sold in 1988 to one of the “finest private sports collectible collections in the nation,” according to Heritage, where it has remained until this transaction. The company could not disclose any more information about the source at this time.

“It's hard to deny that this is the most important piece of New York Yankees memorabilia that exists,” said Chris Ivy, director of sports collectibles at Heritage Auctions. “For decades it was thought lost to history and now, with this auction and this price, it takes its rightful place as one of the crown jewels of sports memorabilia.”

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