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Lot # 1315 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1935 Original Babe Ruth "Home Run" Photo

Starting Bid - $300.00, Sold For - $355.50

Offered here is a rare photograph capturing Babe Ruth crossing the plate as a member of the Boston Braves in 1935. The fact that Ruth is trotting across the plate and tipping his cap makes it a virtual certainty that he is completing his tour around the bases following a home run. What makes this photo so intriguing is a handwritten notation on an accompanying piece of cardboard that appears to have been part of the photo's original cardboard backing. The notation on the cardboard reads "Ruth trotting out his last career home run (May '35)." (Apparently this piece of cardboard was once affixed to the back of the photo, as an identical piece of cardboard remains affixed to the reverse, with both displaying editorial notations.) The photo is also accompanied by a letter of provenance from Frank Ceresi, highly respected researcher, museum consultant, and the former Curator and Executive Director of Collections for The National Sports Gallery in Washington, D.C. In his letter, Ceresi states that he obtained this photo directly from the family of the photographer (he does not identify the photographer by name) and, to the best of his knowledge, it has never been published, except for the one instance where he used it to illustrate an article written for Beckett Elite. He further states that, according to his research, the handwritten notation on the piece of cardboard is incorrect and this photo cannot picture Ruth crossing home plate following his 714th and final home run on May 25th in Pittsburgh. He reasons that it cannot be from the game at Pittsburgh because the catcher for the opposing club is clearly wearing a pinstripe uniform. In 1935, the only National League team to wear a pinstripe uniform was the Brooklyn Dodgers, but only for home games. Therefore, Ceresi suggests that this photo may picture Ruth crossing the plate following his 710th career home run (which would have been his second home run of the season), which he hit against Brooklyn on April 21st. While that explanation seems plausible (and certainly gave us much to contemplate as we considered details about this photo that we might have totally overlooked if not for Frank Ceresi's work), it neglects the fact that Ruth's 710th home run against Brooklyn took place in Boston, and Brooklyn's away uniforms did not feature pinstripes. Boston did play at Brooklyn for a three-game series beginning on April 26th, but Ruth did not hit a home run during any of those three games (Ruth went hitless in the series with two walks, but he never scored a run, so this photo cannot picture him crossing the plate following a teammate's home run either). If that's the case, then where and when was this photo taken? While we do not have a definite answer to that question, we can offer a few possible explanations. First, it is obvious that the photo dates to 1935, because that is the only season Ruth played with Boston. It is also obvious that Ruth is scoring following a home run. If Brooklyn were the only National League team with a pinstripe uniform that season, and IF this photo is from a regular-season game, then the only explanation is that Brooklyn, for some reason, wore their home pinstripe jerseys at Boston on April 21st. However, a more probable explanation is that this photo dates from an exhibition game, either during spring training or the regular season. The Yankees, Indians, and Senators wore pinstripe jerseys in 1935, so maybe it pictures a spring training game against one of those clubs, the Dodgers, or maybe even a minor-league club. Hopefully, further research will one day clear up the mystery. The editorial notes on the back strongly suggest that it appeared in print somewhere at the time, either a newspaper or magazine. Perhaps one day the photo can be found in print, with a caption unlocking the mystery. As is, it remains an outstanding original photo of Ruth crossing the plate following one of the last home runs of his career. The photo (6.75 x 5.75 inches) displays a few light areas of adhesive residue on the front, a few minor creases, and heavy adhesive residue and cardboard remnants on the reverse. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. Reserve $300. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $355.50

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