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Lot 121

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Lot Number: 121

Description: UPDATED DESCRIPTION: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig autographed baseball c.1932. Light to moderately toned J.Heydler NL baseball having been signed by a total of nine players, a mixture of New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. Babe Ruth appropriately occupies the sweet spot with Lou Gehrig positioned on an adjacent side panel. Others include Rogers Hornsby and Charlie Root who notably surrendered Ruth's alleged "Called Shot" Home Run during the 1932 World Series. Ruth signature rates 7 out of 10 with Gehrig grading 7/8. The remainder of the signatures range from 4-7 out of 10 with Gabby Hartnett and Charlie Root having been clubhouse signed. The baseball was obtained in person by a family relative of the current consignor with this auction marking its first public offering. The autographs were obtained first during a 1932 spring training game where Babe Ruth fouled a baseball off which was caught by the gentleman who obtained the autographs of Ruth and Gehrig after the game. An original scorecard from the 1932 spring training game between the Yankees and Braves is included. The Cubs signatures were acquired at a later date by the same individual at a game in Chicago where he resided. It was March 1932, and with spring training opening in Saint Petersburg, Florida, hope too for ball fans everywhere sprang eternal. Now past was the winter of their discontent where baseball lovers were forced to wait, speculate, debate, and anticipate what the new season would bring. An early exhibition game between the New York Yankees and then, Boston Braves was about to take place at Waterfront Park. Jimmy, age nine, was going to the ballgame with his dad, an ardent fan, and Amateur Player himself. The family was vacationing in Florida from their home in the Chicago area. Amongst the greats on the Yankee roster that day, Manager Joe McCarthy, Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Frankie Crosetti, Lefty Gomez (nine future Hall of Fame players) including, considered to be the Greatest Ball Player that ever graced this gem we call a baseball diamond- The Great Bambino, The Sultan of Swat: George Herman Ruth, - The Great “Babe Ruth.” During the game, the mighty Ruth fouled off a pitch into the stands, and Jimmy’s dad, managed to make the grab. Imagine a game used ball off the bat of baseball’s most immortal player of all time. After the game, Jimmy’s dad prevailed upon the good nature of Ruth to sign the ball for his son. Babe loved children, all of them. Orphaned by his parents at age 8 to St. Mary’s Industrial Reform School, he connected with the need and sense of belonging he received from the Xaverian Brothers, in particular Brothers Gilbert, and Matthias, whose love for baseball and legendary towering fungoes made a big impression on the young Ruth. Baseball, combined with the needed care and structure so necessary for these young boys, connected with the Babe, who, in so many ways, remained a childlike boy throughout much of his life. Baseball Historians, sportscasters, broadcasters, and teammates have provided much insight into the Babe and his character, gleaned from a lifetime of those who knew him, as told in the 1994 award-winning biopics and documentary by Ken Burns PBS miniseries ‘Baseball’, Centennial Sports, and other HBO and ESPN documentaries. He loved children. He loved making people happy. He loved doing things for them far beyond what people would have expected. What the Babe did with his warming and engaging smile was to invite children, young and old, into a play world of belonging, something the world truly needed. In many ways, Ruth saw himself in them as he reveled in the smile of a child. It was in their eyes that he saw himself enjoying the innocence and spontaneity of adolescence. He was his relaxed self with the children. He made them happy. He was a joy to be around. He made them feel alive. He had a quality that invited you in. I like to make everybody happy, Ruth said. He really was crazy about kids. A pat on the head, often sitting down with them, always taking time to sign autographs, freely giving baseballs away, simply being with kids put a deep and genuine smile upon his face, and theirs, and an added sparkle to his blue eyes. He gave us a feeling that was larger than life. Doffing his cap, waiving that welcoming smile, wonderful positive personality, with a great sense of humor. Ruth had flaws, yet because he was flesh and blood, he gave us that feeling we were somehow part of him. His existence enlarged us. Perfection, in the presence of greatness, means some tiny flick of it was attached to you. At the same time, he was a very good man. “He was my father and was such a lot of fun. I enjoyed every bit of it.” – Julia Ruth Stevens In 2018, Ruth was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His family said they were especially proud of this legendary sports figure’s humanitarian efforts off the field. “Babe visited thousands of children in hospitals and orphanages” citing his charitable endeavors. “Everyone was equal in Babe’s eyes, rich or poor, white or Black,” they added, calling him an American hero. Once Babe signed the ball for Jimmy’s dad, he handed it to his teammate, the Great Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, who also obliged, as did Yankees Paul Andrews and Ben Chapman. The family soon returned home to the Chicago area. That same year, Jimmy and his dad went to see their hometown favorite, the Chicago Cubs, ball in hand. They were once again blessed, as Cubs manager, still considered by many, the greatest right-handed hitter of all time- the Great Rogers Hornsby, signed the ball. Fast forward to The Fall Classic later that same year: The New York Yankees vs The Chicago Cubs. The Yankees prevailed in games one and two of the ’32 World Series at their great Cathedral, known as ‘The House that Ruth Built’: Yankee Stadium. Bunting appeared for the first time in the left field rafters, and another World Series first was both teams wore numbers on their uniforms. To this day, only the Yankees dawn their number, never their players names. Game three moved to the hostile environs of Chicago’s Wrigley field. There was growing animosity and bad blood between the two teams. Ruth had publicly criticized the Cubs for being ‘cheapskates’ for not voting a full playoff share to former Yankee, Mark Koenig. Koenig hit .353, scoring 15 runs, with 36 hits, nine for extra bases with 11 Rbi’s, during their 33-game pennant winning stretch, when called up to fill in for injured Cub shortstop Billy Jurges, who had been shot in the finger and ribs by an infatuated show girl earlier in the season. Koenig, a friend of Ruth’s was part of the ’27 & ’28 Yankees World Series Championship team, and the group known as Murderers Row. The Yankees further infuriated Chicago for criticizing the firing of former Cub Manager, Joe McCarthy, despite leading them to the pennant in ’29 and finishing second in ‘30. The Cubs misfire of McCarthy proved to back-fire, as McCarthy would lead the Yankees to seven World Series Championships, a feat only equaled later by another great Yankee Hall of Fame Manager, Casey Stengel. Cub players and fans vehemently hurled insults, taunting the aging Sultan of Swat, calling him washed up, has-been and fat, along with many obscenities. Cub players, going beyond the dugout steps, jeering Ruth, making sure he heard them amid the crowd’s uproar, trying to somehow get under his skin and throw him off his game. Babe had misplayed a ball earlier in the inning, giving players and fans more kindling to their fiery ire to ride and deride him evermore. Ruth had hit a 3-run homer in the opening frame, Gehrig, a solo shot in the third. Ruth’s miscue in right field allowed the Cubs to deadlock the game at 4-4 going into the fifth inning, setting the stage known in the sport as the most memorable, legend to lore majestic event still talked about, dissected, pondered, treasured, mulled-and marveled over nearly a Century ago: The “Called Shot”. Amid the growing hostile, raging Cub players and fans, now in a fanatical roaring frenzy, The Titan of Terror, Sultan of swat- the aging Babe entered the batter’s box in what would be his last World Series. With Ruthian poise, this statue of a man jawed back at the Cubs players from the batter’s box, seemingly playing with them. Undaunted, Ruth took the first two pitches for strikes, which he later said, “I didn’t care for the first one, thought it was outside and the second one, I didn’t like much either.” Enter the unforgettable and legendary: With two strikes, the Mighty Ruth raised his arm, gestured toward the center field flagpole, telling Root and the world, according to Ruth,” I’m gonna hit the next pitched ball right past the flagpole.” Amidst the livid, raucous Wrigley crowd, the Big Bam did the remarkable- he hit the next pitch right where he had pointed, past the center field flagpole, an estimated 490 foot “called shot.” Many in attendance, including 12-year-old Cub fan, John Paul Stevens, who would later serve as a Supreme Court Justice for 35 years, insisted to his final days, that Ruth did point to the center field scoreboard, before hitting the monstrous drive. “So, it really happened,” said Stevens. Cub shortstop, Billy Jurges, acknowledged Ruth pointed as well, as did reporter, and respected sports editor, Joe Williams wrote that day, “RUTH CALLS SHOT AS HE PUTS HOME RUN NO. 2 IN SIDE POCKET”. Many had a different account of the event, claiming that Ruth was gesturing after the first strike and the second, saying “it only takes one.” Film footage is inconclusive, showing he did raise his hand and point. In 2020, Author Dan Joseph, while writing, Last ride on the Iron Horse: How Lou Gehrig fought ALS to play one final season, came across a researcher’s discovery of a Radio clip interview with Gehrig, just a few days after the Yankees four game sweep of the World Series. Sports columnist Gabriel Fernandez writes, “The clip itself is from the Oct. 6, 1932, episode of ‘The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour’, a popular variety show bandleader and singer Rudy Vallee hosted on NBC Radio.” Joseph told of the discovery. “I’ve played a lot of baseball but have never seen such nerve as Babe had with two strikes on him,” Gehrig recounted. “Everybody agreed that the high point of the whole works was Babe’s homer in the fifth inning of the third game out in Chicago,” Gehrig says in the clip. He then set the scene of the ravenous Chicago fans in attendance and the heckling Cub’s players on the field. The score was tied, 4-4, and pitcher Charlie Root had Ruth in a 2-2 count. “So, what does he do?” Gehrig continues. “He stands up there and tells the world that he is going to sock that next one. And not only that, but he tells the world right where he is going to sock it, into the centerfield stands. A few seconds later that ball was just where he pointed, in the center field stands. He called his shot and then made it. I ask you: What do you do with a guy like that?” However Babe’s thunderous shot was specifically called that unforgettable day, Baseball Historian Charles Fountain poetically reflected, “Isn’t it wonderful to wonder whether or not he did it. Isn’t it so much better than having a replay from 16 different angles and having 150 writers ask whether he did it or not.” Another sportswriter noted, “I think he is a tremendous mythical figure, but I think he is as big or bigger than any myths. Myths about Ruth really diminish what he did and sometimes establish a false Ruth. The truth of his grandeur is bigger than any myth.” One old-time broadcaster noted “There’s a lot of myth, but there’s a lot of Mister, also.” The Yankees went on to sweep the 1932 World Series 4-0. Although Ruth retired in 1935, having been given his unconditional release by the Yankees, he played briefly for the Boston Braves, the team he played against where this ball’s flight began. A week before announcing his retirement and playing his last game, the Great Bambino, Sultan of Swat, King of Kids’ hearts, both young and old, had a three-homer day for the Braves… 712, 713 & 714. The rest is great baseball history of a Herculean giant who over a 15-year span (1920-1932) hit more home runs than entire teams ninety-one times. Ruth’s record 60 homers in 1927 totaled more than every team, except his own Yankees. Includes full LOAs from PSA/DNA and JSA as well as letter of provenance from the family: Ball: VG-EX, Signatures: Range VG/EX-NM

Estimated Price Range: ($7,500-$15,000)

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