The New York Yankees have always considered themselves stewards of history, but you don’t have to squint too hard to spot the magic in 2022.
Despite a months-long slump and spiral following the All-Star break, one Yankee who never slowed down is Aaron Judge. In fact, Judge’s remarkable season has been cranked into hyperdrive in recent weeks; the slugger has posted 27 home runs and a 1.359 OPS/270 wRC+ in the second half through Tuesday’s game, where he drilled his 60th home run of the season.
That’s an accomplishment that would mean a lot anywhere — 61 is the American League record, after all — but it means a little something extra in pinstripes. As does everything Judge-related, according to Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions, who spoke with Yanks Go Yard about his upcoming sales and the way Judge’s market has calcified in recent years.
In other words, the fan who received a picture with Judge and some balls and bats for his dogpile-related troubles on Tuesday might not want to read any further.
“The Aaron Judge market is extremely hot right now, and a lot of people figure now is the time to sell,” Goldin told Yanks Go Yard. “What can he do to top this? But if you look back when he was a rookie, that’s what everyone said back then, and now five years later, he’s going to set the American League All-Time record. The market’s as hot as it’s ever been, it’s all anyone’s talking about.”
Aaron Judge collectibles market continues to skyrocket; can he join Yankees legends?
For months, Yankee fans have been convincing themselves Judge knows that his personal value will never quite be the same if he chooses an alternate destination for 2023 and beyond, whether that’s his hometown Giants, the big-spending Mets, or a surprise third mystery team.
According to Goldin, the fans have a point. The Judge memorabilia market, at least, will not be the same if he leaves.
“The future [of the market] depends on three things,” Goldin listed. “Does he re-sign with the Yankees? He’s worth significantly more as a Yankee than with any of the other clubs. Second is health, third is performance. Can he put up multiple-50 home run seasons in a row?”
When asked whether the Yankees were his largest money-maker, Goldin was equally emphatic.
“Yes. You’ve got the Yankees, and you’ve got anybody else,” he stated.
While Judge was the topic du jour, Goldin spoke with Yanks Go Yard ahead of a more historical auction, featuring an exceedingly rare Babe Ruth Dodgers jersey. As if the Babe needed a boost on the market, the Judge fervor certainly lifted him, too. But collectors likely didn’t need incentive to hop into the bidding for this jersey worn in 1938 during his time as a coach in Brooklyn, where his duties included pregame hitting displays for the fans in attendance.
According to Goldin, there’s only one home and one road Dodgers Ruth jersey in existence, and this one is hitting the market after its initial sale 11 years prior.
“At one point in time, we had a game-used Yankee hat from the early 1930s. In 2014, we had a bat that would’ve been used around the 1918 season. But any time you get the literal shirt off a player’s back, that’s different,” Goldin explained. “To have a chance at what actually could be the final jersey Babe Ruth wore on a major league playing field as an employee … as an active coach, actively taking BP with the team … that’s special.”
Goldin — who will be featured in an upcoming Netflix series executive produced by Peyton Manning — is also auctioning off the rare Honus Wagner tobacco card graded PSA 1.5, which he estimates will sell for between $4 and $5 million (though he promised to reach back out if it ends up going for two or three hundred dollars, a promise I’m holding him to).
Though he’s already reached lofty heights, the auctioneer’s dream is to get his hands on Joe Jackson’s confession from the 1919 Black Sox scandal (“It was entered into the court documents, and now it’s gone. It exists, unless it was burned.”). He’s also on the lookout for a game-used Babe Ruth uniform from his Red Sox days, back when he used to pitch and hit.
And speaking of people who do that…
“Shohei Ohtani is very popular, but he’s a distant second to Judge right now in the memorabilia market,” Goldin confirmed. “One reason is certainly the team. People want to see you win championships — which is not happening for him this year.”
Case closed. Sold, to the auctioneer making a very valid point.