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Lot # 849 (of 1641)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Extraordinary and Historically Significant 1948 First Edition of The Babe Ruth Story Signed by Ruth, Cobb,

Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $10,073

Signed first editions of The Babe Ruth Story (E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1948) which was published just a few months prior to Ruth's death, have always been highly prized by collectors. Offered here is perhaps not only the most historically significant signed copy extant, but one that is also accompanied by extraordinary provenance in the form of a number of letters to the original owner documenting its signing. What makes this book so special is the fact that in addition to Ruth's signature, the book is also signed by numerous individuals featured in the book, including four Hall of Fame players: Ty Cobb, Dizzy Dean, Mickey Cochrane, and Frankie Frisch. This book was the original property of a gentleman named Ken Crouch, who, as the accompanying letters show, was a personal friend of Bob Considine, the prolific writer who coauthored The Babe Ruth Story. In two separate one-page letters from Considine (dated March 17, 1948 and April 28, 1948, respectively) the author first promises to obtain a signed copy of The Babe Ruth Story for Crouch, and then, in the second letter, confirms that his signed copy has been mailed to him. Ruth's inscription, boldly penned in black fountain pen (grading "10") on the title page, reads "To my good friend/Ken Crouch/from/Babe Ruth." Considine has also inscribed the book to Crouch in blue fountain pen directly below Ruth's signature, "Ditto/from/Bob Considine." That Crouch always intended to have the book signed by other individuals is clearly evident in Considine's second letter to Crouch: "I got your books from Babe this morning and, after signing them, mailed them on to you. I don't know Bill Bendix's home address, but you can easily reach him via Joe Kaufman, Roy Del Ruth Productions, 9165 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, Cal." (William Bendix played the part of Babe Ruth in the big-screen adaptation of the book, which was also titled The Babe Ruth Story.) Crouch was obviously successful in reaching William Bendix, as the actor's black fountain-pen inscription of "Best Wishes/William Bendix" also graces the title page along with the blue-ink inscription of Tom Zachary ("Best Wishes/Tom Zachary"), who gave up Ruth's historic record-setting sixtieth home run in 1927. The four Hall of Fame signatures featured in the book are those of Ty Cobb (signed and dated in his customary green ink "10/29/58" on page 158), and Dizzy Dean, Mickey Cochrane, Frankie Frisch, all of which appear together on a photo picturing the three posing together at the 1934 World Series (opposite page 94). The remaining seven signatures in the book are those of Ben Egan (a former major league catcher with the Philadelphia Athletics, Ruth's battery mate on Baltimore in 1914, and one of Ruth's first close friends and mentors in professional baseball), Jack Warhop (the pitcher who gave up Ruth's first major league home run at the Polo Grounds in 1915), Duffy Lewis (star outfielder and teammate of Ruth's on the Boston Red Sox), Fred Lieb (famous New York sportswriter), Claire Ruth (Babe's wife; signed "Mrs. Babe Ruth"), Charlie Root (cut signature taped into the book; Chicago Cubs pitcher who gave up Ruth's "called shot" in the 1932 World Series; he writes "Babe did not point - Charlie Root"), and Laurine A. Baker (Ruth's nurse). All of the signatures have been boldly executed (in a variety of inks) and grade either "9" or "10." We have never seen another copy of this book signed by anyone other than Ruth or Considine. The fact that all of the other signers are either referenced by Ruth in the book or are important to his life story (i.e., Bendix) give this volume an extraordinary significance and make this by far the finest signed copy we have ever seen. Based upon the date of the Cobb signature and the dates of two additional accompanying letters, it took Crouch a number of years to track down all of these individuals and acquire their signatures. In one of the additional letters to Crouch, written by Ben Egan and dated October 12, 1962, Egan recalls his early years with Ruth: "I have many fond memories of my associations with 'the Babe' and a very vivid recollection of many of his years in baseball. It was a privilege for me to have had a part in the formative years of his baseball career and a distinct honor to be mentioned so kindly in the book. I am happy, indeed, to add my signature to a page of such a great story." The fourth letter included here, dated December 31, 1959, was written by Jack Dunn III, who was the grandson of Jack Dunn, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles and the man who signed Ruth to his first professional contract in 1914. Crouch had mistakenly thought Dunn III was his grandfather when he wrote to him and Dunn III was writing him to inform him of the error. (Jack Dunn passed away in 1928.) The book is complete with its original dust jacket and displays moderate wear throughout, including light scattered toning to a number of pages. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. The dust jacket has had restoration to a number of small tears and presents as Excellent. All of the letters bear normal mailing folds and are in Excellent condition overall (the Egan letter includes the original mailing envelope). The book is housed in a custom-made leather solander. LOA from James Spence/JSA and PSA/DNA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000++. SOLD FOR $10,073

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