Heritage Auctions August 2nd Platinum Night Auction will be open for bidding soon, and we wanted to give you a taste of what is to come. The Ultimate Babe Ruth Artifact, the only 1927 Babe Ruth Game Used Bat in private hands, PSA/DNA GU 10.
Place the true baseball fan/collector/historian in the cockpit of a time machine, his fingers at the keyboard, and you’ll find “The Bronx, 1927” the most commonly typed destination. For eight and a half decades, the stories of Murderer’s Row have been told and retold, passed from father to son to grandson, the borders between fact and folklore now difficult to discern, turned hazy in the brilliant light of its perfection. Though the christening of the game’s finest edifice with the franchise’s first World Championship in 1923 put the baseball world on notice, it was the season of 1927 that the Yankees truly became the team that we now know it to be, and that Babe Ruth cemented his personal legacy as the most enduring name in American sport.
Lou Gehrig’s American League MVP nod and a four-game World Series sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates, monumental achievements in their own right, are today recalled largely as footnotes to a greater history, the Babe’s successful assault on his own single season home run record. In the mind of most baseball purists, that 1927 tally of five dozen still holds sway as the last legitimate “apples to apples” elevation of long ball slugging’s high water mark.
As the primary tool of the trade that transformed a poor kid from the slums of Baltimore into the most recognizable face on the planet, the Babe Ruth game used bat, in any incarnation, rates as an American treasure. This is as true emotionally as it is financially, the latter borne out by a $1.265M result for his bat used to club the first Yankee Stadium home run and the $537,750 high bid for lumber dating to the 1918 Boston Red Sox World Championship season. Certainly both merit their eye-popping price tags. So how does the only privately owned 1927 Ruth bat measure up?
It’s not just any 1927 bat either, but one that leading expert John Taube characterizes as “one of Ruth’s favorite bats” from that historic campaign. Taube makes this assertion “based upon the outstanding use pattern on the left barrel and the presence of handle scoring and heavy barrel scoring, both of which are excellent Ruth characteristics.” While the Babe had since abandoned his brief practice of notching his home run bats like a gunslinger’s wooden grip when those bats started to go missing, but the abundance of use evident in the bat’s surface establishes its participation in a quantity of Ruth’s record sixty as a mathematical certainty.
The 35.25″ length (and Ruthian 40.5 ounce heft) of this signature model Hillerich & Bradsby is a key factor in establishing its optimal vintage. Ruth’s factory ordering records finds two model entries for his 1927 season, referenced as “His Lou Gehrig 7-12-26” and “Lou Gehrig’s model 4-16-27.” For the uninitiated, these terms relate to bats returned to the H&B factory for duplication, the dates noting the time of receipt–these terms served to differentiate the variations prior to the advent of model numbers. Crafted from hickory rather than ash, and measuring 35.25″ (with quarter inches always rounded up to halves in H&B records), the presented bat relates to the latter Gehrig model, only ordered by the Babe in this combination of material and dimensions during the season marking Ruth and the New York Yankees’ shared historical 1927 apex.