Auction Item Details

Lot 410

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Lot Number: 410

Description: Historic Babe Ruth Autographed 702nd Home Run Baseball. Newspaper headlines on July 23, 1934 in Chicago, and all over the world, grandly noted the shooting and death of infamous outlaw John Dillinger. Dillinger was the most wanted man in America at the time with Federal agents finally tracking him down outside of a Chicago movie theatre on the North Side. Two young couples from Long Prairie, MN had decided to venture to Chicago in order to attend the "Century of Progress" World's Fair. One of the couples, I.F. "Neats" Lano also elected to take in a baseball game at Chicago's Comiskey Park between the White Sox and the visiting New York Yankees. Seated in the Grandstands during the second inning of the game, with two men on base, the young Lanos witnessed Babe Ruth launch a home run into the stands. Although clearly out-dueled within the news headlines that Monday morning, also on Sunday July 22,1934 Babe Ruth had belted his 702nd home run of his career. Wisely, "Neats" Lano procured the baseball from the stadium employee who had the good fortune of receiving the ball for sum (reported in the period) of $1.00. The ball itself displays the appropriate American League stampings (somewhat faded) with blue William Harridge, President markings which began use as manufactured by Reach sporting goods in 1934 specifically. The ball surface exhibits evident game use inclusive of a clearly pronounced dark scuff-mark from impact very likely upon landing from the blast off of Ruth's bat. Ball surface also shows another area of impact, which certainly appears to be the area in which the offered ball made its fatal contact with the Bambino's lumber. Side panel of the ball displays a period inscription, "Home Run #701 By Ruth 7-22-34 Chicago". The inscription has been partially enhanced in period ink due to fading from display over the years but retains fine overall appearance with the initial inscription visible on the surface of the ball. On the opposite side panel resides a beautiful autograph, which Lano obtained from Ruth for his 12 year old son Billy, "To Billy From Babe Ruth" in blue fountain pen. Signature and salutation rate 8 out of 10. Interestingly, the ball is notated as being home run #701 when it was actually #702. This incidence was likely a reflection of the lack of immediate information available in the era as further evidenced by its incorrect reference by the Chicago Daily Times, and other newspapers, in the period. The newspaper referred to Ruth's home run incorrectly in several instances as the 701st of his career including an article written by noted sportswriter Paul Gallico comparing Ruth to Cobb in which he tallies Ruth's home run total at "701". Further corroboration of the events included with the baseball is outstanding with a remarkable degree of specificity to include: • Two original ticket stubs from the July 22, 1934 game • Original admission ticket for the "Century of Progress" on July 26, 1934 • Original Northern Pacific Railway Envelope dated July 5, 1934 addressed to Mr. I.F. Lano with Century of Progress brochure • Postmarked July 22, 1934 "Century of Progress Chicago" postcard as sent by Lano to his son Billy Lano (to whom the ball was signed) with handwritten content referencing the July 21, 1934 game in which he states, correctly, that Ruth did not play but "saw Gehrig hit a home run" (Gehrig's 325th of his career). Lano further writes about Ruth, "...think he will play Sunday..." • Handwritten letter from Billy Lano dated 8/14/2006 in which he recalls the history of the ball including circumstances obtained by his father from the Comiskey Park guard • Xerox copies of the Long Prairie, MN newspaper dated August 2, 1934 in which Lano is referenced as having obtained the offered baseball while on his trip to Chicago for the "Century of Progress" exhibition. This very same article also confirms that Lano was successful in having Babe Ruth sign the ball to his 12 year old son Billy. • Several actual period copies of Chicago newspapers including The Chicago Daily News dated July 23, 1934 which reference the game and the home run. • Xerox copy of a 1978 news article with photo picturing Lano holding the offered baseball. • Typewritten letter from the Chicago Tribune dated April 2007 in which it is confirmed that the home run total printed in the newspaper was in fact incorrect further corroborating the wrong total written on the baseball in the period. Truly significant Ruth home run baseball which, to date, is the second highest career number exemplar to be offered at auction with note to the fact that presumably only a scant few documented Ruth 700+ home run baseballs survive in any form today. Includes LOA from JSA (autograph) and letter of provenance from the family in addition to the aforementioned extensive documentation: Ball: EX, Signature: EX/MT-NM

Estimated Price Range: ($50,000-$100,000)

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