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Babe Ruth: Baseball player's landmark home run bat fetches $1m

Babe Ruth hits his first home run during his tour of Japan at Miji Shrine Stadium, Tokyo, Japan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Babe Ruth played between 1914 and 1935 and is considered to be one of the sport's greatest ever players

A bat used by legendary baseball player Babe Ruth to hit his 500th home run has been sold at auction for more than $1m (£746,000).

The bat was sold by an unidentified buyer at an auction in California at the weekend.

In the 1940s Ruth gifted the bat to a friend, whose family hid it away for decades.

Ruth is regarded as one of the sport's greatest players. His career spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 to 1935.

"Babe Ruth memorabilia continues to be among the most prized artefacts for all worldwide collectors," David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions, said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The bat was sold to an unidentified buyer at SCP Auctions in California

Items connected with Ruth have proved highly valuable in the past, often selling for millions of dollars.

A jersey he wore in the 1920s and 30s was snapped up for $5.64m at auction in July, making it the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.

In 2004, a bat used by Ruth in 1923 to hit the first home run out of the original Yankee Stadium sold for $1.3m.

Ruth, whose nickname was the Sultan of Swat, gifted the 500th home run bat to his friend Jim Rice, the former mayor of Suffern, New York.

Before going under the hammer on Saturday, the bat gathered dust for three decades in a cupboard in the home of Mr Rice's only son, Terry.

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Media captionNew exhibit shows private side of Babe Ruth's legacy

As time passed, Mr Rice's son said he felt anxious about displaying the bat or telling his friends about it, fearing it might be stolen.

However, he told Reuters news agency "it just seemed time" to sell the piece of sporting history.

Ruth hit 714 home runs in a 22-season career with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees before retiring in 1935.

He won seven World Series and is one only three players in baseball history to have hit 700 home runs or more.

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