New York Yankees History: What happened to Babe Ruth’s famous cap?

William Parlee

As you can imagine, in their 100 plus years of baseball, the New York Yankees have some exciting stories that captivate Yankee fans. One of those stories was the famous Babe Ruth game-worn cap that star pitcher David Wells purchased and attempted to wear on the mound at Yankee Stadium.

David Wells being a collector of baseball memorabilia, got the chance to purchase a game-worn cap of the legendary Babe Ruth. Wells acted quickly and, at auction, bought the hat worn by the Sultan of Swat for about $35,000.

One day Wells wanted to show off the hat while pitching on the mound at Yankee Stadium, thinking, “I’m gonna wear this sucker.” However, the then New York Yankee manager, Joe Torre, got wind of the pitcher’s desire and told him that the cap wasn’t part of the uniform and that he couldn’t wear it. But Wells was determined to wear the hat because it was part of Yankee folklore and, therefore, “It was a part of history.”

Meanwhile, Torre and Wells went back and forth about wearing the hat with Torre just as adamant that he should not wear it as Well was in wearing it. In the end, Torre won out, demanding that Wells not wear it. Wells, for his part, seemed to agree at least partially.

During batting practice, Torres knowing Wells, kept his eyes on him to make sure he wasn’t wearing the hat, and he wasn’t. It was June 27, 1997, and Wells was still determined to wear the hat. As the beginning of the game was announced by public address announcer Bob Shepard, the players emerged from the dugout. Wells had the hat on before Torres could remove it as he was already on the mound. Wells wore the hat for the first inning before receiving a $25,000 fine for the infraction.

Wells achieved his desire and had to pay the fine, but in a later video, he stated: “I wore the hat, and history is history.” Later in life, 15 years later, an auction featured a game-worn Babe Ruth shirt. Wells saw the chance to sell his 1934 game-worn cap and entered it into the auction in 2012. The cap sold for $537,000. Considering the fine, Wells made a cool $677,000 of the sale to an unnamed buyer.

It was just another iconic moment in Yankee history that involved two Yankee greats that could be told to children and newer Yankee fans. 

Babe Ruth, in his career with both the Boston Red Sox and fifteen years with the Yankees, had a .342 batting average with 659 home runs. He entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as one of its “first five” inaugural members. Wells had an excellent pitching career, pitching for nine different teams, including four years with the Yankees. For the Yankees, he was 68-28 for a 3.90 ERA.  The three-time All-Star pitched a perfect game for the Yankees on May 17, 1998.