A check written by Babe Ruth on the day he hit the first of his history-making 60 home runs in 1927 is among more than two dozen pieces of ‘Babe-a-bilia’ slated to open for bidding this Sunday, July 30, in Memory Lane Inc’s. Historic Rarities Auction. Many will go on display next week at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore. Ruth-signed baseballs, photos, rookie cards and a bat autographed by Ruth, Lou Gehrig and members of the 1933 Yankees are among the highlights in the auction, which will conclude August 18.
Dated April 15, 1927, the check is signed in Ruth’s full name and made out as a ‘Payment on the Babe Ruth Trust Fund’. Ruth homered that day and added 59 more over the next five months, making headlines as the most prolific home run hitter the world had ever seen.
The check is one of several items from the estate of Christy Walsh, considered by most to be the first-ever sports agent. Walsh also collaborated with Ruth and other sports stars on a series of articles and books, serving as the ‘ghost writer’ while Ruth got credit.
Ruth’s signature is at the bottom of Walsh’s 1947 World Series press pass from Yankee Stadium, also part of the estate consignment. Amazingly, the pass carries signatures not only of Ruth but those of Cy Young, Eddie Plank, Lefty Grove, Frank “Home Run” Baker, Joe DiMaggio, Frankie Frisch, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock and others, all obtained during the showdown between Joe D’s Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers whose new weapon, Jackie Robinson, helped push the series to seven games.
The autographs show incredible foresight on Walsh’s part as he preserved a little slice of history by the simple act of having his famous acquaintances sign the pass, which remains exceptionally well preserved.
In 1945, Ruth spent a week staying with the family of Walsh’s doctor in Connecticut following a charity golf event and the auction includes items signed by Ruth during that visit. Ruth-signed ball gloves are exceptionally rare but the doctor’s young son who got him to sign his mitt that week 67 years ago has consigned it—and a baseball personalized to him—to this auction. In the catalog, “Big Ken” Caselnova, also offers his memories of spending a week hanging out with the legendary slugger.
There’s a second Ruth-autographed check in the auction, this one signed twice on the day he got engaged to his future wife Claire, August 16, 1928. It’s from Walsh’s account and carries a rare endorsement of Ruth’s full name, “George Herman Ruth”, on the front and “Geo. H. “Babe” Ruth on the back.
Walsh was involved in getting Ruth to join other sports stars who conducted clinics during the 1939 World’s Fair and a rare ‘Laurel Card’ signed by Ruth from that event is offered in the auction, with a $2,000 minimum bid.
There are several baseballs signed by Ruth inside the catalog, including one from the 1947 American Legion World Series, not long before The Bambino died of cancer. Also among the signatures on the ball are the names of two Legion players who went on to big league fame; Don Zimmer and Jim Frey. Ruth’s name adorns the sweet spot, in bold ink.
Another interesting one-of-a-kind item in the Memory Lane auction is a bat carved by two Indiana brothers who made their way to Yankee Stadium in 1933 and somehow managed to acquire 24 signatures from that legendary New York squad including Ruth and Gehrig. The bat, which stayed in the family all of these years, is for the first time, being offered to the hobby with a $10,000 minimum. A video testimonial is online at MemoryLaneInc.com.
For collectors of vintage baseball cards, however, the key items will be a pair of 1916 Ruth rookie cards, a Sporting News 1916 PSA 4 (VG-EX) and a rare Famous and Barr variation, SGC 10 (PR). Over the last year, serious collectors have realized how underrated Ruth’s first big league cards were and prices began to climb when they were offered at auction, with new records being set. The fact is, there aren’t enough coming to market to satisfy the ongoing and increasing interest in them. The Sporting News issued card will open at $25,000.
There are also two different PSA 7 1933 Goudey Ruth cards and a 1948 Leaf, also in near mint condition.
In all, the auction includes more than 1,300 items. Bidding will be available by phone (714.730.0600) or online at MemoryLaneInc.com.
You can view some of the lots, pick up an auction catalog and sign up to receive future catalogs during the National Sports Collectors Convention. Memory Lane will be at booth 117B near the front door of the Baltimore Convention Center.
The company is also accepting consignments for its next I Own it Now event, scheduled for late September.