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If you’re a sports fan, you’ll love nothing more than watching your favorite team, player or athlete perform. However, many people take this passion one step further and start to collect sporting memorabilia.

Whether it’s a signed jersey or a treasured rare trading card, many of these collector’s pieces have sentimental value.

But, if you can bear to part with them, your sports memorabilia can provide a handsome return when taken to auction, as museums and other fans battle to own the one-off pieces. Just take a look at these record-breaking sales, as certified by the Guinness World Records.

Most expensive baseball card

When you think of baseball cards, you probably think of small children eagerly swapping them in the schoolyard. However, in 2007, an anonymous bidder bought a rare baseball card distributed by the American Tobacco Company for a staggering $2.8million – a whopping $450,000 more than it sold for just six months previously.

The card featured Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner and, within the collecting community, it is known as the ‘Mona Lisa of all trading cards’.

Most expensive soccer shirt

It is to be expected that anything associated with soccer legend Pele will make a sizable return when it goes up for sale. That’s exactly what the shirt the man himself wore during the 1970 World Cup final did when it was put up for auction in London. Fetching over three times the estimation, the final selling price was a staggering $225,109!

Most expensive baseball bat

Used by George Herman Ruth, it wasn’t just the sporting legend’s status that helped the most expensive baseball bat in the world reach an astronomical sum at auction. The bat was used by Ruth to hit the first home run at the newly opened Yankee Stadium on April 18th 1923.

With such a rich sporting heritage, the bat sold for $1,265,000 when it was auctioned in New York in 2004 – a small price to pay for an epic slice of sporting history.

Most expensive baseballs

Back in 1999, a baseball was sold at auction in New York City for a huge $3,054,000. But it wasn’t just any baseball: it was the very ball hit by Mark McGwire when he hit his 70th home run in his record 1998 season.

In 2006, a baseball signed by the iconic Joe DiMaggio and legendary film star Marilyn Monroe went to auction in Dallas, Texas. Under the hammer, this priceless piece of memorabilia sold for $191,200.

Most expensive cricket hat

Cricket memorabilia has raked in big bucks too: one of the most notable sales was Sir Donald Bradman’s cap which he wore during Australia’s 1948 tour of England. The lucky bidder, Tim Serisier, was so keen to snap up this iconic cricket item that it was sold in a pre-auction deal worth A$42,500.

Getting your hands on some treasures

One of the easiest ways to get your hands on some priceless memorabilia is by going out there and making it yourself – and no, we don’t mean by forgery. With the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Winter Olympics all taking place this year, 2014 is packed with prime opportunities for you to snare a sportsman’s autograph or two.

Many people don’t realize the value of their sporting memorabilia, making flea markets, car boot sales and eBay prime locations for picking up a bargain that could be worth a fortune. If you do choose to use online auction sites, make sure what your buying is authentic.

Of course, your items will need to be in excellent condition in order to fetch the largest return. Before you part with your cash, take into consideration any damage, as this could significantly reduce your item’s worth.