As anyone who has seen The Sandlot surely knows, Babe Ruth-signed balls are the Holy Grail of baseball memorabilia.

Baseball aficionados don't part with them easily, and when they do they can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in return.

So when John Lackey, who was traded to the Cardinals from the Red Sox at the MLB trade deadline, was willing to swap a Bambino-signed ball for a jersey number and nothing else, it was a big deal.

St. Louis reliever Pat Neshek, who owned the No. 41 at the time of Lackey's acquisition by the Cardinals, tweeted this photo Wednesday:


Lackey is one of the more superstitious players in baseball, so perhaps he feels tied to the No. 41. But compared to what other athletes have paid for a number, this is a substantial price. According to some reports, the price of a Ruth-signed ball varies wildly depending on the condition, and those in bad shape could go for as low as $3,000 or $4,000. The ones in good condition, however, have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the most expensive one going for $388,375.

In recent years players have paid $25,000, $50,000 and even forked over a year's supply of diapers for the right to a certain number.

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