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Lot # 1317 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1934 "Tour of Japan" Program Featuring Ruth and Gehrig

Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,777.50

Extremely rare 24-page Japanese baseball program issued during the historic 1934 Tour of Japan by Connie Mack's All-American Team. Its historical significance and artistically designed cover have always combined to make this program a universally recognized classic, and one that is familiar to many due to its use as an illustration in many books. We have seen very few examples of this important program over the years. In fact, this is only the second 1934 tour program we have offered during the past ten years. The first example we handled appeared as Lot 1139 in our May 2009 auction, where it realized a final sales price of $4,113. The 1934 Tour of Japan is significant today due to the fact that it was the only overseas barnstorming tour that Babe Ruth ever participated in. As the members of the tour soon discovered, Ruth's fame was not constrained by cultural barriers. The Japanese people revered him and he was treated like royalty in each city he visited. His popularity in Japan is evidenced by the design of this program, which features a large portrait illustration of Ruth on the cover. Additionally, he is represented again on the interior with a full-page photo (he is the only player on the tour given a full-page photo in the program). The remaining pages feature smaller, bust-length photos, and brief biographies, of every player on both the American and Japanese teams, including Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Connie Mack, Jimmie Foxx, Charlie Gehringer, Al Simmons, and Moe Berg. An interesting side note to the tour concerns Moe Berg's presence on the American roster. Berg was a journeyman catcher of little note and his inclusion on the roster was not by Connie Mack's choosing, but rather by that of the United States government. Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, Berg, a Princeton graduate who spoke seven different languages, was living a dual life. On the surface he was a professional ballplayer. His other career, however, was that of an undercover spy for the U.S. Government. Intelligence officials saw the 1934 baseball tour as an ideal opportunity to acquire important information regarding Japan's major cities, and for that reason Berg was hastily added to the roster just before the team set sail. Armed with a movie camera, Berg took hundreds of reconnaissance films that were later used by the government during World War II. The program (7.5 x 10.25 inches) displays a number of light-to-moderate creases (more prominent on the back cover and last few pages), as well as small edge tears and oxidation to the binding staples. Nearly all of the interior pages have separated from the staples, but the book is complete as issued. While technically in Good to Very Good condition (these programs are rarely, if ever, found in high grade due to their age and fragile nature), the flaws are all very unobtrusive and the program retains an overall Excellent appearance. This is an extremely rare program, chronicling what is often regarded as the most famous overseas barnstorming tour in baseball history, and one that would be an ideal accompaniment for display with a 1934 World Tour signed baseball. Reserve $500. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $1,777.50

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