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Lot # 11 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1938 Babe Ruth Single-Signed "Babe Ruth Day" Baseball

Starting Bid - $2,500.00 , Sold For - $11,750.00

This souvenir baseball from "Babe Ruth Day" boasts an exceptional signature of the day's honoree across the sweet spot. Ruth's signature has been boldly scripted in blue fountain pen and grades a strong "9." The gold-and-green stitched baseball bears no manufacturer's markings and is beautifully manufactured with bold lettering reading "Souvenir" on the top panel, and "'Babe Ruth Day' - 'July 6, 1938" on the opposite sweet spot. This is the first example of this "Babe Ruth Day" ball we have ever seen and at first it presented us with a mystery. The official Babe Ruth Day, as recognized by Major League Baseball, was on April 27, 1947. So what Babe Ruth Day event was this ball from? Ruth was a coach with Brooklyn in 1938, but the "Babe Ruth Day" represented here could not have been sponsored by Brooklyn or any other Major League team. We know that because the date, July 6, 1938, was the day on which the 1938 Major League All-Star Game was held. Therefore, no regular-season games were scheduled. We had just about given up all hope, when we decided to contact renowned Babe Ruth historian and author Bill Jenkinson (and NO ONE knows more about Babe Ruth than Bill Jenkinson!) to ask him what he knew about this particular Babe Ruth Day. Not surprisingly, he knew everything about it. Ruth and the Brooklyn Dodgers traveled to Syracuse, New York, on this date to play a special exhibition game against the minor-league Syracuse Chiefs, who had declared this day "Babe Ruth Day." One of the primary reasons Ruth was asked to join the Dodgers' coaching staff in 1938, although it was unbeknownst to him initially, was for his star power. He was a great drawing card. Every father and every young kid in America wanted the chance to see baseball's greatest legend. His contract even stipulated that he was to take batting practice with the team before every game just so he could put on a "home run" show for the fans. His ability to put fans in the seats was especially evident during the team's exhibitions games. Back then, unlike today, most Major League teams played exhibition games during the regular season in order to generate extra revenue, and with Ruth on the field the Dodgers were a particularly strong draw at the gate. Ruth played in all of the Dodgers' exhibition games in 1938 and his presence in the lineup was heralded weeks in advance at every venue where the team was scheduled to appear. The Syracuse faithful were particularly ecstatic over Ruth's arrival and honored him by declaring July 6, 1938 "Babe Ruth Day" in Syracuse. It seemed that the entire town turned out for the game that night, as the attendance figure of slightly more than 11,000 was far greater than that of any regular season Chiefs game. Ruth went one for three in the game, with a single. He did, however, "knock one out of the park" when he signed this ball that night, for it represents one of the most interesting, outstanding, and rare Ruth signed pieces dating from his legendary last hurrah in professional baseball with the Dodgers in 1938. The ball is very lightly soiled and in Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $11,750.00

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