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Lot # 15 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1927 Babe Ruth 54th Home Run Ball - Signed by Ruth, Gehrig, and Others.

Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $7,703

On September 18, 1927, in the second game of a doubleheader against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth launched his 54th home run of the season off of future Hall of Famer Ted Lyons. That ball, which also represented Ruth's 410th career home run, landed in the hands of a twelve-year old boy named Buddy Radin, who was in attendance along with his father that day. Offered here is the very ball caught by Radin on that date, which, as one might expect, he saved and cherished for the remainder of his life. Catching a home-run ball, let alone one off the bat of Babe Ruth, was probably the dream of any young boy attending a major league game during that era; however, Radin's joy was just beginning. Following the game, he and his dad waited at the gate where the players exited the stadium and were lucky enough to obtain not only Ruth's signature on the ball, but those of Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig, and Chicago White Sox player/manager Ray Schalk.

Ruth's blue fountain-pen signature, bracketed by the familiar quotation marks on either side of "Babe," sits upon the sweet spot and grades "5." The blue fountain-pen signatures of Gehrig ("3") and Schalk ("3") appear together on a side panel. On a separate side panel, Radin himself documented the ball by writing "Property of/Buddy/Radin/'1927'/Sept. 18/Off/Lyons/Chicago." On another side panel, to the right of Ruth's signature, Radin added the notation "'54'/H.R./1927." Interestingly, at the spot where Radin wrote the "54 H.R." notation there is dark, circular spot on the ball that might actually represent the contact point where the ball met Ruth's bat. As one can plainly see in the photographs we have posted, all of Radin's original handwritten notations began to fade over time, so he later went over them in blue ink with the exception of the words "Property of Buddy Radin" (very light but still legible upon close inspection).

Accompanying the ball is a one-page typed-signed notarized letter from Lee Powers, the grandson of Buddy Radin, in which he attests to its provenance. The letter, dated November 22, 2004, and which can be viewed in its entirety on our website, reads in part:

This ball was the prized possession of my step-grandfather, Buddy Radin. At age twelve, Bud caught the ball in the stands after Babe hit it out of the park for the 54th time in 1927. . . . As long as I or any other member of my immediate family can remember, he kept it safely stored in the top draw [sic] of his dresser. He carried it and treasured it throughout his life and often took it out to show anyone who came to visit, vividly recounting the story as if it was yesterday. He even carried a copy of the game's box score in his wallet till the day he died. . . . This ball and its history have been a part of my family since the day Bud brought it home from Yankee Stadium. He was not a collector and had no other agenda. It is my firm belief this ball is exactly what Bud maintained it was and is: the 54th homerun [sic] ball hit by Babe Ruth in 1927. I have absolutely no reason to think otherwise, and I have no doubt it is absolutely authentic.

Accompanying the ball, as noted in Powers' letter, is a tattered newspaper page, from the September 19, 1927, issue of the Los Angeles Examiner, that includes the box scores from the Yankees' doubleheader sweep of the White Sox on September 18, 1927, as well as an article about the game. Obviously, any ball attributed to a Ruth home run is special. The fact that this ball dates from the legendary season of 1927, when Ruth established his long-standing single-season mark of 60 home runs, makes it one of the most significant examples extant. The ball itself, a red-and-blue stitched official American League (Johnson) ball, dates to the 1926-1928 manufacturing period. Moderate-to-heavy soiling is displayed throughout and is consistent with game use. The fact that it is signed by both Ruth and Gehrig, and most important, Ray Schalk, manager of Chicago, further supports the story, as do the obviously vintage notations made at the time by Radin. While there is naturally a leap of faith involved in the identification of home-run balls dating from such a long time ago, based upon all of the extremely compelling evidence presented, we find the leap here to be quite small. We are firmly of the belief that this ball is exactly what it is purported to be: Babe Ruth's 54th home run ball from the 1927 season.

Ideally the ball is accompanied by FULL LOAs from both PSA/DNA and James Spence/JSA. It should be noted that there is one other extremely faint vintage signature on the ball that we cannot identify. JSA cannot identify it either, but notes that it believes the first name to be "Johnny." PSA/DNA identifies the signature as that of "Jimmy Ring." Ring was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1927, which would not seem to make any sense. Of course, PSA/DNA is entitled to its opinion; however, we, along with JSA, do not believe the signature is that of Jimmy Ring (only a few letters are visible with the naked eye, and even those are not readily identifiable). Full LOA from PSA/DNA and full LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $7,703

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