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Lot # 1266 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Extraordinary 1920 Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb Photograph - "Changing of the Guard"

Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $7,702.50

Historically significant original news photograph capturing Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb at the Polo Grounds on May 25, 1920. Both Ruth and Cobb are pictured posing together on the field prior to the game, with Cobb displaying his classic "hands apart" grip. The handwritten text on the reverse, scripted in pencil, reads "Two Best Batters in the American League." Editorial notations read "Indiv. Ty Cobb" and "Crop top and bottom Sqr. Same Size." Below the text is an "International" credit stamp (International News Service). Although no year appears on the reverse, an example of this very image was found in the Bettmann Archives, which lists the date of the photo as May 25, 1920. (The uniform style worn by Cobb also conclusively dates the photo to 1920.) Ruth, who was in his first season with the Yankees in 1920, was the talk of the baseball world that spring after the Yankees purchased his contract from the Red Sox for $125,000 and other financial considerations. After hitting a record 29 home runs in 1919, Ruth's first season as an every-day player, even bigger things were expected from him during his inaugural season with the Yankees. Of course, the introduction of the lively ball and the ensuing emphasis on home runs signaled a monumental change in the very nature of the game, a shift that resulted in Ruth's tremendous rise in popularity at the expense of the game's earlier stars, most notably Ty Cobb. This photo captures the pair during the Tigers' first trip to New York in 1920. May 25th marked the second game of the three-game series between the two clubs in New York. Ruth had already gotten the better of Cobb in the first game, hitting two triples in three at bats to Cobb's single in four trips to the plate. On May 25th, the day of this photo, Ruth once again stole Cobb's thunder by hitting his seventh home run of the year. The next game only served to punctuate the widening gap between the two players, as Ruth had two more hits, including his eighth home run, while Cobb went hitless in four at bats. Ruth, of course, finished the season with what was then an unimaginable record of 54 home runs. That feat, coupled with his 136 RBI and .376 average solidified him as the game's greatest hitter, much to Cobb's chagrin. As a result, Cobb resented Ruth for the remainder of his life and the relationship between the two, even after their careers had ended, was never more than civil. This classic image captures the game's two titans at the very crossroads of their careers and is perhaps the finest Ruth/Cobb photo extant. It is also a rare image. Their general animosity towards each other resulted in very few photo opportunities for cameramen, making photos such as this scarce today. The photo (4.75 x 6.5 inches) displays exceptional clarity, even to the point that one can read the labels on the bats, and has been neatly trimmed to its current dimensions. A few extremely minor surface wrinkles are evident throughout (only visible when viewed at certain angles). Excellent to Mint in appearance and in much finer condition than is normally found with working press photos of this age. Reserve $500. Estimate $2,000+.
SOLD FOR $7,702.50

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